Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Mother recalls horror of fire that killed her baby girl

TAMPA — Kimberly Mack lay Tuesday in an Ohio hospital, hurting.

Late last week, the electricity at her Tampa home was off. She was using candles. A fire broke out.

Her 1-year-old daughter, Ja-niyah Grant, died Sunday from injuries suffered in the fire.

Her 5-year-old son, Elijah Small, was critically injured. She's with him as he undergoes treatment at the Shriner's Children's Hospital in Cincinnati.

"I can't talk. I'm hurt. I'm just hurting," Mack said in a phone interview. "I just wished I could've gotten my kids."

Investigators determined that the accidental fire started in the living room of 3613 E Diana St. early Friday.

Mack, 25, had been burning candles, said Tampa police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor, because there was no power at the time in the rental home.

Traci Parks, Mack's mother, said she got a call from her daughter about 6 a.m. that day.

"My babies are trapped in the house," she screamed to her mother. "I can't get my babies out."

Parks rushed to the home.

Mack told her she and her children were in bed when she awoke to smoke, Parks recalled.

She tried to find a fire extinguisher, but couldn't. She got 6-year-old Chazmaine Small out, but when she tried to run to where her younger kids were, fire blocked her way.

She eventually went around the back of the house to try to bust out a window, but wasn't able to because burglar bars were bolted to the house, Parks said.

Ja-niyah's heart stopped when she was inside the home, leaving her brain dead, Mack said.

The mother and children were rushed to Tampa General Hospital. After Ja-niyah's death there, Elijah was transferred to the Shriner's hospital in Cincinnati.

Mack said her son's burns were so severe that Tampa General could not give him the treatment he needed. He has been unconscious in critical condition since being pulled from the fire. Doctors are recommending skin grafts for his serious burns.

As he tries to recover, his mother will return to Tampa to bury his baby sister.

Ja-niyah was playful, spoiled and energetic, her grandmother said. "It's like you put a Duracell energizer in her," Parks said.

Mack said her baby was full of love. "She was the best person. … That was my baby girl. She loved her momma. I'm going to miss her," Mack said.

She died of smoke inhalation and burns to her skin, according to the medical examiner.

The autopsy was Tuesday. The child was an organ donor.

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