Cause of Shelby County Fire Released - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Fatal fire in Shelby County that claimed the lives of mother, daughter ruled accidental

Posted: Updated:
Charred remains from a fatal house fire in Shelby County Oct. 18, 2013. (abc3340.com) Charred remains from a fatal house fire in Shelby County Oct. 18, 2013. (abc3340.com)
SHELBY COUNTY - AL -

Update:

The State Fire Marshal's office has ruled the fire an accident. Investigators believe combustible items were left too close to a heat source.

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Original:


Family and friends of a mother and daughter killed Oct. 18 in an early-morning fire are mourning their loss.

At 4 a.m., volunteer firefighters from five surrounding communities rushed to 730 Gunlock Road in Wilton. By the time emergency crews arrived, the home was fully-engulfed in flames.

Leah Elizabeth Lee, 9, was found dead inside the house while her 40-year-old mother, Kandace Devon Lee, was rushed to Shelby Baptist Medical Center, where she died a few hours later from smoke inhalation and burns to her body.

Lee's teenage son and another man escaped without injury.

Leah was being home-schooled, but attended Montevallo Elementary for the past few years. "This is a school where we all knew the child. And it's touched us all," said Assistant principal Haley Franks. "We've had grief counselors out here, talking to our teachers and just trying to get us through. They are available for the children also."

Franks says counselors plan to be in the schools when children return to the classrooms next week.

A spokesman with the Alabama Fire Marshall's office says an investigation is underway, but all early signs point to an apparent accident.

October is traditionally fire-prevention month. Franks says Montevallo is the only town in Alabama to host an annual parade. She believes that in light of this tragedy, it might be a good time to revisit the topic in schools.

This tight-knit community is absorbing the news, and reeling. The City is tentatively planning a special remembrance of the pair at a harvest festival next weekend.

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