PALATKA, Fla. -- An 8-year-old girl was found in a house that was on fire in Palatka. She died on December 16.
According to a spokesperson with the Palatka Police Department, fire and rescue responded to the home at 12:30 a.m. on Friday. They found the 8-year-old girl in the home alone inside of the residence which was on fire. The fire is still under investigation at this time and the girl's cause of death is not being released at this time.
The girl's mother arrived at the scene while officials were there. She was later questioned. Officials do not know where she was at the time but don't believe her to be a suspect in the potential arson. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is being called to assist with the investigation.
First Coast News spoke to the two men who helped call authorities when the fire broke out around midnight.
Terry Parker first saw the flames when he was walking down the street. He started pounding on the door but couldn’t get inside. That’s when Jacob Meeks, who lives across from the home, came outside when he heard the commotion and called 911. They couldn’t get a response from anyone inside so dispatch told them to step back until firefighters arrived.
“Then I see, like ten minutes later, the little girl get pulled out from the fire marshal. They ran down there and put her in the ambulance,” Meek said. “She was just laying there flat, I thought she was dead. I didn’t know if she was alive, it made my heart drop. I didn’t know what to do.”
Meeks says when she was pulled out of the home she was in her pajamas.
A neighbor says the little girl was asleep on the couch when the fire started.
Investigators say the fire is suspicious. If it turns into a “full-fledged arson” case, according to Palatka police, the state fire marshal will offer a reward for anyone who has information leading to an arrest or prosecution.
Friday evening the community brought out teddy bears and balloons to the home as they wait to hear more from the family.