Home News Today 11-year-old Georgia girl dies saving dog from house fire, uncle says

11-year-old Georgia girl dies saving dog from house fire, uncle says

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11-year-old Georgia girl dies saving dog from house fire, uncle says

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A house fire in Georgia claimed the life of an 11-year-old girl who was trying to save her dog, family told FOX 5 Atlanta.

The fire tore through a home outside the Griffin city limits on Sidney Drive in Spalding County Saturday night. The home was a complete loss, firefighters told FOX 5. 

The victim’s uncle identified the girl as Katelynn Simonds.

“Always had that smile on her face,” Charles Beecher, Simonds’ uncle, told the TV station. “That’s what I’m going to miss.”

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Katelynn Simonds cheerleader uniform

Katelynn Simonds, 11, was a cheerleader, family members told local media.  (Family provided to FOX 5 Atlanta)

Beecher said the child died around 5:30 pm while trying to be a hero.

“She was worried about her dog upstairs, and she ran upstairs,” he explained. “Katelynn, she’s like us, an animal lover. She went upstairs and got that puppy. His name was ‘Little man.'”

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Katelynn Simonds with dog

Katelynn Simonds had tried to save her dog, who was upstairs in the home at the time of the fire.  (Family provided to FOX 5 Atlanta)

Neither Katelynn nor the dog made it out. Beecher, described as having a pain in his voice while speaking about the loss, said the family is now left with memories. 

“I helped take care of them, and always looked after them while [her mother] worked,” Beecher said.

Katelynn Simonds' home lost to fire

A small memorial sits outside the home that was lost to the fire on April 6, 2024.  (FOX 5 Atlanta)

Spalding County Fire Department’s chief of operations told FOX 5 crews tried to save the girl but by the time they arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. Responding firefighters were offered counseling services to help them process the tragedy. 

“We go in, everyone, with that attitude. We’re going to do everything we can, within humanly possible, to try to make a difference,” Spalding County Fire Department Chief of Operations Mike Byrd told FOX 5. “And these stories [are] just very tragic for us.”

Katelynn’s brother and two other people were in the home at the time the fire broke out and survived, FOX 5 states. 

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Katelynn was a student at Cowan Road Middle School, according to WSB-TV. Family members told the local TV station she was a cheerleader at the Spalding and Pike county recreation departments, and lived with her mother, brother and stepdad. A firefighter sprained his ankle carrying Katelynn out of the house, WSB reported. 

A small memorial has been left outside the home as community members grieve the loss of Katelynn. 

Investigators have determined the fire was accidental. It started on the first floor of the home in the living room area, a Spalding County Fire Department spokesman told Fox News Digital. 

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