SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. -- The house fire that caused the deaths of a 12-year-old girl and her 75-year-old grandmother was started by another child in the home, according to investigators.
"The Fire Marshals have completed the bulk of their investigation and determined that the fire was started by a younger child, who also resided in the home, playing with fire starting materials in the first floor living room. The fire spread to other areas of the house," Spotsylvania County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management spokesman Deputy Chief Joseph Sposa wrote in an email.
According to a family member, the son, 6-years-old, told the family he was trying to keep them warm when he started the fire with something like a Duraflame log. He dropped the match and the fire rapidly spread from the first floor, official said.
Roanna Hill, 12, ran upstairs in the burning home in the 13000 block of Fox Gate Drive in an attempt to save her grandmother Carole Hill, according to multiple sources. Both the child and her grandmother became trapped in the burning home.
"Firefighters entered the second floor of the home using ladders in an attempt to rescue the trapped victims. Shortly after entering the home, the victims were located and removed using ladders," Sposa said. "They received extensive resuscitative efforts on scene and during transport to an area hospital, but succumbed to their injuries. A third victim was also transported to the hospital with significant injuries."
The third victim, identified by family members as Roanna's father, is currently being treated at VCU Medical Center.
Hill's aunt established a GoFundMe account in an effort to help her family during this difficult time.
"My heart goes out to the family," said neighbor Dale Brown. "This is tough on anyone."
"Seventy-five years, I've never seen anything like it," Brown added.
"There is nothing on this Earth that can balm the pain of losing a child, but to lose two loved family members and have a third enduring such physical trauma, in such a horrific way is indescribable," Tiffany Champagne Crotty wrote online. "My sister's family literally has only the clothes they are wearing and those are fire damaged. Replacing 'things' is the easier part. They are now homeless and facing hospital bills, ongoing treatments, medications, travel to and from hospital, food etc. for the family and, heart-breakingly, must now start making funeral plans for our precious RoRo and her grandmother."
The American Red Cross was also contacted to help the family.
It took nearly 60 firefighters an hour to bring the house fire under control. Firefighters had to shuttle water in with tanker trucks due to a limited water supply.
The homeowners are in the military and live in Germany. Neighbors said the Hills started renting the home in July.