EMMETT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A tipped water heater is the likely culprit behind the fire that killed a young girl Sunday afternoon, according to the Emmett Township Public Safety.
Police say that it appears as if the water heater had shifted due to weak flooring underneath it. Upon the shift, the heater broke a natural gas line that then ignited.
The fire destroyed the mobile home, and killed 9-year-old Brettlyn Rench, who was taking a shower at the time.
Brettlyn’s mother, Melinda Girdham, 44, and her boyfriend James Sparks, 43, were also inside the home. When smoke detectors began sounding, the couple began to search for the cause.
Sparks went outside to inspect the water heater, and Girdham went to the bedroom for Brettlyn as the home was filling with thick, dense, black smoke.
Sparks wasn’t able to re-enter the home. He pulled Girdham out through a window to safety, but not the girl. Her body was found in the bedroom.