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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Child dies in SE Houston house fire


    Authorities believe the cause of a southeast Houston house fire that claimed the life of a 5-year-old boy late Sunday night was accidental.

    Police said Muhammad Salim Gillespie died in the one-alarm blaze, which occurred at a home in the 1200 block of Hebert just after 11 p.m.

    The child’s mother told investigators that she was asleep in the front room of the house with her two young children when she awakened to the smell of smoke, said Officer B. Evans of the Houston Police Department Homicide Division, which is investigating the incident along with the fire department.

    When she got up, she saw large flames in the one-story home and rushed to get both of her children out of the house. However, the 5-year-old panicked for an unknown reason and broke away from her, Evans said.

    The mother broke a window to get her other child through and when she looked back, she could not find Muhammad.

    “”The smoke was so thick, she never regained sight of him,”” Evans said.

    Several attempts were made by the child’s mother and other family members to go back in and find the Muhammad, but they were unsuccessful. Firefighters found the boy near the center of the home during an initial search, said Houston Fire Department Deputy Chief Fernando Herrera. The child died at the scene.

    “”Everything at this point in time indicates that it is an accidental fire,”” said Evans.

    Herrera said the child’s mother told authorities that she’s been living there for about 30 days and was unsure if a smoke detector was in the home.

    Early Monday morning, several people still stood outside the charred home looking on as arson investigators worked at the scene.

    The size of the blaze and heat kept firefighters from entering through the front gate of the home and were forced to make entry from the rear of the house, Herrera said. He said wind conditions may have escalated the flames.

    The child’s mother did not wish to comment.

    Reporter Dale Lezon contributed to this report.

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