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Girl Dies Looking for Mom in Burning Home

April 25, 2006

STEELTON, Pa. (AP) _ A 6-year-old girl who escaped a house fire early Tuesday died after running back inside to find her mother, authorities said.

The youngster did not realize that her mother had jumped to safety from a second-floor window.

Firefighters found the body of little Da-Onah Watts under a bed on the second floor.

Da-Onah and a 13-year-old cousin had been asleep on the first floor when they awoke to flames and ran from the house, said Police Chief Kenneth Lenker.

The older girl, Nesha Barely, lost her grip on Da-Onah as they escaped, Lenker said. Nesha told authorities Da-Onah kept yelling for her mother and went back in to try to find her.

A neighbor summoned help, but the heat and flames were too intense for police or firefighters to get inside. The home was destroyed.

Da-Onah’s mother, Myiaa Smith, 29, was not seriously hurt.

The fire appeared to be accidental and probably started in the laundry room, Fire Chief Gene Vance said.

Neighbor Evelyn Brubacher said Da-Onah was a sweet, well-behaved girl, and she and her mother were very close.

``Her mother watched her,″ Brubacher said. ``A lot of kids in this alley, they just run and run. Not that one.″

Steelton, just outside Harrisburg, has about 5,700 residents.

``This little kid played in the neighborhood. We waved at her,″ the police chief said. ``Everybody knew her. It’s a tragedy.″

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