A devastating house fire in Pemberton Township that killed a 7-year-old girl who was home with four young siblings late Wednesday could have been caused by electrical problems, authorities said Thursday.
Authorities identified the victim as Lamiyah Graves. Her mother, Shirita Turner, 34, placed a 14-year-old daughter in charge when she went to Philadelphia that evening to help her 20-year-old son obtain a rental car.
The mother told detectives that she "had to help him sign off on the rental," First Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Raymond E. Milavsky said.
Milavsky said officials are still investigating and have not yet determined whether child endangerment or neglect charges are warranted.
Fire Marshal Mike Reed did not return calls for comment but Milavsky said a report on the cause of the blaze could be filed before the week ends. The fire, Milavsky said, was not of suspicious origin.
Fire officials said the 11:38 p.m. blaze gutted the rancher in the 300 block of Seminole Trail, in the Country Lakes Estates section of the town.
Milavsky said that the 14-year-old girl and another 11-year-old child were playing a game in the front of the house when a 3-year-old sibling alerted them to flames in a back room.
The three managed to escape unharmed along with a 6-year-old, but were unable to find Lamiyah in the smoke-filled house. Milavsky said firefighters later found her body in a bedroom closet.
He declined to release the names of the other children since they are minors.
Milavsky said the children lived in the house with their mother.
Fire Chief Craig Augustoni told the Burlington County Times that he was the first officer to reach the home. And by the time he got there, fire was already blowing out the windows and onto the lawn.
Fire officials had to call in a tank truck due to inadequate water supplies in the neighborhood.