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Second child dies after St. Louis fire; woman in custody

Second child dies after St. Louis fire; woman in custody


ST. LOUIS — A 5-year-old girl died Monday from injuries suffered in a house fire Sunday that also killed a baby boy and seriously injured a second young girl.

All three children had been left home alone, authorities said. A woman was taken into custody after the fire.

Firefighters were called to the Clinton-Peabody public housing complex in the 1100 block of Kealty Lane about 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The three children — the infant and girls ages 4 and 5 — were trapped inside the third-floor unit as smoke began to billow out of the windows. Neighbors kicked in the door and tried to get into the apartment, but the smoke was too thick for them to get inside, said fire Capt. Leon Whitener. Firefighters were able to pull the girls out of the apartment, but the infant was dead by the time they made it to the third floor, Whitener said.

Police took a 23-year-old woman into custody. Authorities have not released the identities of the woman nor the infant who was killed.

Fire officials said Sunday that a woman showed up after firefighters had arrived and told fire crews she lived in the apartment. Her relationship to the children wasn’t immediately available.

The cause of the fire was under investigation Monday by the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson unit.

This is at least the second fire involving children left home alone this year in St. Louis. On Aug. 15, firefighters rescued four children, three in cardiac arrest, from a burning home near the Lafayette Square neighborhood.

Those parents, Keith J. Witherspoon Jr., 33, and Crystal D. Ford, 27, were both charged with four felony counts of endangering the welfare of the children.

In Sunday’s fire, a neighbor, Chaz Isreal, said he was with some friends in a nearby apartment, when they realized there was a fire and ran to the building. One of the men kicked in the door to see if anyone was inside.

Someone threw Isreal a painter’s mask, he put it on and tried to run into the building, but the smoke was too thick to make his way inside, he said, adding: “I tried but I couldn’t get through.”

Nassim Benchaabane of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: Police initially misidentified the gender of the infant killed. This story has been updated.

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