Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools found out early Monday about a first grader in their school district who died in a house fire at her family’s home, and after that they were ready to support students and staff as they dealt with this tragic loss.
Assistant Fire Chief of Albert Township Brock Baum said the fire started about 10:30 p.m. Sunday at a home on Sailing Avenue, right next to the township fire station.
A 13-year-old girl was inside along with her 6-year-old sister. The teenager was able to get out, but the 6-year-old was found inside the home once firefighters arrived.
Fire officials say the house was fully engulfed in flame when they arrived. They took the 6-year-old to the hospital where she later died.
The 6-year-old was also a first grade student at Johannesburg-Lewiston Schools. Katy Xenakis-Makowski, the superintendent for the schools, said they spent Monday supporting students with counselors on hand at all the schools.
Xenakis-Makowski said that this was a loss that’s impacted the entire district. The first grade girl had two older sisters, one at the middle school and one at the high school.
“They did not only lose a child, but they lost everything,” Xenakis-Makowski said. “So we’re looking for a rental to secure in the community for the family so that they can stay in the community and they can help the other children.”
The school was accepting donations Wednesday night at a basketball game in lieu of tickets. The district also plans to collect cash donations and gift cards at any Johannesburg-Lewiston school office on behalf of the family.
Donations to the family can also be made to the Kritzman Family at the Gaylord or Lewiston Community Financial Credit Union Branch.
Firefighters believe the cause of the fire was a burning candle, but it still remains under investigation.