By Al Novack, Nicole Brewer and Anne-Marie Green
PEMBERTON, NJ (CBS) – A seven-year-old girl is dead after a fire ripped through a one-story single-family home in Pemberton, New Jersey, last night.
The fire broke out around 11:30 and when fire crews arrived at the scene in the 300 block of Seminole Trail in the Country Lakes Estates development, they found the home engulfed in flames.
At one point, firefighters attempted to enter the home, but were overwhelmed by smoke. Fire crews had to call in back-up water supplies from a tanker task force, due to the lack of adequate water supplies.
The blaze was declared under control after 45-minutes. That’s when crews began a secondary search which turned up the dead victim inside.
The victim, identified as Lamiyah Graves, was left home with her four other siblings. Authorities say the mother, 34-year-old Shirita Turner, was in Philadelphia helping her adult son acquire a vehicle. She took public transportation into the city and missed her train or bus home. Police say Turner left her 14-year-old responsible for the younger children ages 11, seven, six and three.
The other children managed to escape the fire. Police say the oldest sibling attempted to save her sister Lamiyah, but the smoke was too much for her. The investigation revealed that Lamiyah was hiding in the closet when the fire broke out, unable to escape or be rescued.
Police say no charges will be filed against the mother as there is nothing illegal about leaving a 14-year-old home to watch a child.
There’s no word yet on what caused the blaze; the Burlington County fire marshal is investigating.