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Sadness has blanketed the Shelby County community of Waddy and Heritage Elementary, where 6-year-old Elizabeth Brown went to kindergarten.
Less than a week before Christmas, Elizabeth died early Sunday morning when she was trapped in her burning home.
Neighbors were able to help Justin and Tanya Brown and 2-year-old Justin Brown Jr. out of the burning home, but they were unable to save Elizabeth, who was found by firefighters just before 5 a.m., nearly three hours after they arrived at the blaze.
The Browns were all suffering from smoke inhalation and had to taken to Jewish Hospital Shelbyville. Justin Brown Sr. has been released, but his son was taken to Kosair Children’s Hospital.
Monica Warford, who is related to the family, said he may be released soon, but his mother is still hospitalized at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, where she was transferred.
Waddy Fire Chief Darrell Brown said his department received a call at 1:54 a.m. that a house was on fire and someone possibly was trapped inside.
Firefighters arrived at 8026 Waddy Road in seven minutes. Brown said, and found the lower portion of the two-story house was totally engulfed in flames.
“We knew a rescue would be involved, but when we got there, the lower level of the house was fully involved with fire, and it was going up the stairwell,” he said.
Brown said firefighters found Elizabeth at 4:51 a.m.
Shelby County Deputy Coroner Jeff Ivers pronounced her dead at the scene.
Steven Rucker, principal at Heritage Elementary and a member of the Lawrenceburg City Council, said he held an assembly Monday for the entire student body to tell the children what had happened.
“We told them it was OK to cry; it was OK not to understand,” he said.
Now, just three days before Christmas, the family has lost everything, including their precious daughter, he added.
The cause of the four-alarm fire, which was worked by fire departments from Waddy, Mount Eden, Shelby County and East 60, is still under investigation, Brown said.
“It doesn’t seem to be suspicious, but the State Fire Marshal’s Office and KSP [Kentucky State Police] is looking into it,” he said.
Kentucky State Police spokesperson Ron Turley said his agency is conducting a death investigation in connection with the fire. As for the cause, he said he has heard talk of a faulty space heater possibly being the cause of the blaze, but that has not been confirmed.
Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Rob Goodwin said he will release a statement when he has made a determination on the cause of the deadly blaze.
Rucker said anyone wishing to help the Brown family may call the school’s main office at 502-829-5242.
Also, anyone wishing to donate money to the family to help with burial expenses or to help them relocate, can make contributions at any area Citizens Union Bank by donating to the Brown Family Account.
The family lost everything in the fire, so Justin Brown Jr., who turned 3 years old Tuesday, also needs Christmas presents. He wears a size 8 or 9 toddler shoe and size 3-T clothing.
Warford said Monday night that she was expecting a Girl Scout troop to furnish him with a birthday present.
Arrangements for Elizabeth are pending at Hall-Taylor Funeral Home.