Spalding County

11-year-old girl killed in Griffin house fire, firefighter sent to hospital

GRIFFIN, Ga. — An 11-year-old girl is dead following a house fire in Griffin.

The Spalding County Fire Department said they were called out to the home along Sidney Drive around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco went down to Griffin to learn more about the fire.

Francisco learned the girl had already died by the time firefighters arrived. Crew members had gone into the house to search while others worked to put the fire out. Unfortunately, the 11-year-old could not be revived.

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Speaking with the family, the victim was identified as Katelynn Simonds, a Cowan Road Middle School student.

Spalding County Fire Chief (Operations) Mike Byrd said the flames were high enough that they could be seen from a mile away.

Byrd told Channel 2 Action News that he wanted everyone to know how fast flames can spread.

“They tried to get her, her stepdad and her step-uncle tried to go in after her and to no success, they couldn’t get in,” he told Francisco.

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Family members told Francisco that Katelynn was a cheerleader at the Spalding and Pike County recreation departments, and lived in Griffin with her mother, brother and stepdad.

According to family, Katelynn had rushed back into the house to get her dog out.

Since the fire, people in the Griffin community have stopped by the house to leave stuffed animals and flowers outside as they grieve Katelynn’s loss.

A firefighter was also taken to the hospital for injuries sustained while fighting the fire. Byrd told Channel 2 Action News that he sprained an ankle while carrying Katelynn out of the house.

A friend of the family is organizing a fundraiser to help them find housing, clothes, and to help lay Katelynn to rest.

In the meantime, the Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office is helping the Spalding County Fire Department investigate the cause of the flames. That information is expected sometime Monday around lunchtime, according to Byrd.

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