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Fruitvale mother killed in early morning fire
Written by Clayton Neville   
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 07:09

A Van Zandt County mother is dead and one of her children is burned after their home caught fire early Tuesday morning.

According to Van Zandt County Fire Marshall Chuck Allen, fire departments and law enforcement were dispatched to 316 Van Zandt County Road 1129 in Fruitvale at 12:35 a.m. on a report of a structure fire with woman trapped. 

"Upon arrival they found a single wide mobile home fully involved with fire," said Allen. "It was learned that there was a total of five people, of which there was one adult and four children were staying the night in the mobile home.  The occupants were awakened by the smell of smoke in the house." 

Allen said three of the children were asleep in the living room of the mobile home and managed to get out of the house.  

"A sixteen year old male ran around the house and attempted to gain access to his mother and sister who were asleep in the master bedroom," Allen said. "The male occupant broke out the window and pulled his 14-year-old sister out of the burning house. He was unable to get to his mother."

The fourteen year old suffered burns to both arms and hands, along with smoke inhalation and was transported to Parkland Hospital in Dallas and is currently in the Intensive Care Unit of the Burn Center. Authorities believe the girl is expected to make a full recovery.  The brother suffered injuries to his hands from breaking out the window and was treated at Parkland Hospital and released. 

Authorities say the mother, 41-year-old Wendy Harris, was located in the master bedroom. 

"She was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Don Kirkpatrick," said Allen.  "The body was transported to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas for an autopsy." 

The other two children ages 20 and 18 did not receive any injuries.  A fireman was transported to Cozby Germany Hospital with minor injuries as a result of traumatic injury, suffered on the fire scene. He was treated and released. 

The names of all the victims have not been released at this time, pending notification of family. 

"The cause of the fire is going to be a space heater in which the proper precautions were not taken to not store anything around the space heater, while it is functioning," Allen said. "The space heater was left unattended in a bedroom in which no one was staying in. 

Fruitvale and Grand Saline Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the incident.  The Fire Marshal was assisted by the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office and Van Zandt County Constable Precinct One Mickey Henson.  

"There is no doubt that the sixteen year old male saved the life of his sister," Allen said. "He tried feverishly to get to his mother, but could not gain access to her due to the heat and smoke."

 
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