Family remembers girl killed in Arcadia house fire

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Laiellah Hatcher (Photo courtesy of family)

The family of a 12-year-old girl killed in a house fire Tuesday in Arcadia says she overcame a lot of obstacles in her young life.

Laiellah Hatcher’s sister Kristina says the girl was born three months early, suffered from hearing loss, had autism, ADHD, and a genetic disease called “Turner syndrome.”

Hatcher says her youngest sister was a fighter and never let any of that define her. She’ll always remember Laiellah’s love of animals and how she died trying to save them.

“She has absolutely loved animals. She loved horses and dogs. She wanted to be a vet,” Hatcher said.

Sadly, Laiellah will never get to live out her dream after a fast-moving fire ripped through her family’s home early Tuesday.

“In a matter of moments, the whole entire house was engulfed in flames,” Hatcher said.

She watched from her grandparents’ house next door as fire consumed the home where her mom and four siblings were. They all made it out, but Laiellah worried about her five dogs.

“My mother dragged her out of the house. She didn’t want to leave; she wanted to help her dogs. My mom got her out of the house and then she ran back in,” Hatcher recalled. “We had to try to shout over the sounds of the flames for her.”

Hatcher says that in all the chaos, it took several minutes to realize Laiellah wasn’t with them.

“I was trying to do a headcount to make sure everyone was around, but everyone was just in such a hurry and such a quick movement, I didn’t realize for about a good 20 minutes that she was gone.”

Their brother tried to run back into the house to find Laiellah, but the smoke was too thick. At the same time, their mother was being taken to the hospital where she’s now in a coma. She doesn’t know Laiellah is gone.

The Hatchers are praying their mother survives her severe burns. She was recovering Wednesday from her third of what Hatcher expects to be many surgeries.

When she thinks of Laiellah, “I want to believe that she made it to her dogs, laid down with her dogs, and just went to sleep.”

Hatcher says her family is full of heroes. Her 18-year-old brother was the first to notice the 3 a.m. fire and got everyone out of the house safely.

As for the cause, the fire marshal is still trying to pinpoint that, but investigators don’t believe it to be suspicious.

The community is rallying around the family, coming together to do whatever they can to help. A fundraising event is planned for March 27 at the Orange Grove Opry, 3922 CR 661-A, in Arcadia. It begins at 1 p.m., and all proceeds will benefit the Hatcher family.

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