Girl, 5 dogs die in Arcadia house fire

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
The fire broke out in a home on Levsky Avenue before 3 a.m. (Credit: WINK News)

A 12-year-old girl and five dogs died in an Arcadia house fire early Tuesday.

The fire broke out in a home on Levsky Avenue before 3 a.m. A mother and her two children lived there, along with some other family members.

Everyone escaped the fire, but the girl, Laiellah, ran back into the burning home to save the dogs. Her brother tried to run in to recover her, but both the girl and the dogs died.

Laiellah (Photo courtesy of family)

DeSoto County’s fire chief said crews found the remains of two dogs and Laiellah, and they believe the other three dogs died as well.

The call for the fire came in just before 3 a.m., with the first fire truck arriving within six minutes. The flames were already so big that crews attempted to enter the house several times with no luck.

Deputies weren’t sure if anyone was still inside. They asked neighbors if anyone had seen Laiellah as the flames continued to grow.

“There was no unburned part of the house when we arrived. It was essentially all on fire,” said Chief Chad Jorgensen with DeSoto County Fire Rescue.

Laiellah’s mom and older brother suffered burns and smoke inhalation. Her mom is currently in the ICU with burns over 40% of her body, a family member says. Her brother was treated at the hospital and released.

Neighbors who saw it all unfold say they’re heartbroken. They feel the sting of losing a girl they watched play outside with her dogs all the time. Laiellah was on the autism spectrum, according to a family member, and loved lions, “The Lion King” and “My Little Pony.”

And she loved her dogs, a strong bond that could be seen by neighbors.

“I did see her out here a few times. When her dogs were out here, she’d be hugging on them and stuff,” said Paul Mee.

Laiellah originally escaped the fire, but she ran back inside to save her precious pups.

“So often people that wind up dying from a fire actually have gotten out. They choose to go back in for various reasons,” Jorgensen said.

“I didn’t know anything happened until the police came over here and said they were looking for her,” Mee said.

Jorgensen says Laiellah’s older brother tried to run back inside to save his sister, but he couldn’t reach her.

“I just couldn’t imagine. She’s still a baby. That’s what they said, she just went back in,” Mee said.

It’s a loss Rosa Stainbrook can’t fathom.

“It’s heartbreaking because I have two sons, 12 and 14, and it just breaks my heart for the family.”

Her organization, “Bulldog Strong,” is collecting donations for the family.

“We will take anything. Beds, sheets, towels, food. If anyone just wants to donate money, we will do that also.”

It’s the small gestures that will make a big difference after the family’s massive loss.

“I’m just hoping that we can really come together and do something to help this family.”

There were other family members in the home and they managed to escape to a nearby relative’s home.

The state fire marshal is working to figure out how the fire started.

Trust WINK News for updates.

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