A teenage girl was killed early this morning in an apartment fire on Victoria Street. The fire, according to officials with the Forrest City Fire Department, is believed to have been the result of a cooking-related accident.
According to a Forrest City Police Department report, officers and FCFD firefighters were dispatched to a reported fire at an apartment complex at 316 Victoria Street just after 3 a.m., this morning. The fire, according to the report, was consuming the apartment and flames were coming out of the front windows when first responders arrived.
Once on the scene, firefighters were notified that 14-year-old Jada Wilson was still inside the apartment.
"Our first crew arrived to scene just shortly after 3:11 a.m.," said FCFD Chief Anthony Renigar. "Heavy smoke and flames were coming from the apartment, and after assessing the situation, they immediately called for all personnel to respond. The door was locked and entry had to be forced. As soon as entry was made, our firefighters were met with flames that had to be fought back just to get into the building."
After entering the apartment, according to Renigar, firefighters made their way upstairs to search for Wilson. She was found unconscious and brought outside, where first responders and EMTs began life-saving techniques. Wilson was transferred to the Forrest City Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead of apparent smoke inhalation, Renigar said.
According to Renigar, there had been four occupants inside the apartment, including the victim's mother and two siblings. While removing two of the children from the home, he said, the mother was locked out of her apartment due to an automatic locking mechanism.
Renigar said an initial investigation into the cause of the fire was conducted by his department, and the cause of the fire is believed to have been unattended cooking in the kitchen. However, the investigation has been turned over to the Arkansas State Police.
Wilson was a ninth grade student at Forrest City High School. According to school officials, grief counselors have been made available to students at the school.
"The Forrest City School District and Forrest City High School are saddened at learning of the loss of a ninth grade student this morning in a tragic fire," said Kendall Owens, FCSD public relations director.
"High school guidance counselors and other community resources are working with students to assist them as we work through this time of mourning. District staff and partners are also available to assist the siblings and classmates as we grieve the death of this young lady. Our prayers are with the family of this student."
According to Renigar, other units in the apartment complex received both smoke and water damage in the incident.
The last fire fatality in Forrest City took place in October of 2015, when a 64-year-old woman was killed as a result of a fire that consumed her Mann Street home. The cause of that fire was determined to be arson.
According to Renigar, it has been several years since a minor was killed as a result of fire in Forrest City.