Fatal fire in Chesterfield appears to be accidental

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – We're learning more about a house fire that left a toddler dead and a community devastated. Late this afternoon, investigators said while an exact cause hasn't been found, they believe the fire was an accident. The fire on Gunsight Terrace in Chesterfield County forced the little boy's mother to flee from the home. Neighbors said today they didn't realize what was going on until it was too late.

"I'm so broken hearted, I couldn't go to sleep," said neighbor Barbara Butler. She lives a few doors down from the home on Gunsight Terrace.

"I saw the mother standing in the middle of the street - it was dark - she had a small child in front of her. She was just screaming, No! No! No!" Butler said.

The fire started around 7 o'clock Monday night. The blaze sent the mother, and another small child, running from the home. A 2 year old boy was left behind after the mother tried to rescue him.

"I said 'Dear lord come be with them because they need it now'. Then I found out the little boy died and then she's in the hospital - the mother - then I prayed more," said neighbor Gertrude McDannels.

Neighbors say they didn't know what was going on. They didn't see flames or smoke. The mother spoke little English. By 7:05 firefighters showed up.

"I didn't see fire until they went around back and smashed out a window - then I saw flames," said Butler.

The interior of the home was engulfed in flames. Investigators say the fire was in the same room as that 2 year old toddler. The mother tried to rescue the boy but couldn't.

"They were out playing yesterday in the yard down behind the house -- just running and playing," said McDannels.

Neighbors say the family is quiet and pleasant. Butler says her grandchildren spent time with some of the children in that home.

"They had a pool in the yard and the kids were playing in the pool," Butler said.

Investigators are trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire. Neighbors are wishing they could have done more to help. A firefighter received minor injuries. The mother is recovering at VCU Medical Center.

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