Child Dies After Crews Pull Her from Jefferson County (AL) House Fire

Carol Robinson


A 7-year-old girl killed in a weekend house fire is being remembered for her smile and her love for others.

Za’Niyah Fox, a second grader at Chalkville Elementary, died at Children’s of Alabama about an hour after Center Point firefighters pulled her and her grandmother, Wanaki Fox, from the flames.

“She was happy all the time,’’ said her grandfather, Rodney Threadford. “She loved everybody.”

Center Point Fire responded shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday to the residential fire in the 2700 block of Seventh Place N.E. Chief Gene Coleman said firefighters arrived to find heavy fire.

Za’Niyah’s teen uncle, Threadford’s son, was in the basement and was alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm. He tried to get the others out of the home but was unable to do so. He was able to self-evacuate after he called 911, Coleman said.

He was shaken but not physically injured.

He was able to tell firefighters where his niece and mother were located. Coleman said he believes both were found in the same bedroom on the main level.

They were unresponsive when pulled from the home by firefighters.

Za’Niyah was taken to Children’s where she was pronounced dead at 7:07 a.m.

Fox was taken to UAB Hospital where she remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.

The fire started in the kitchen and Coleman said it appears to be accidental.

Za’Niyah had attended Chalkville Elementary since kindergarten. Principal Rod Johnson said Monday was a difficult morning at the school.

“Our counselor met with the students in Za’Niyah’s class this morning and has been available to provide support for our students and staff as needed,’’ Johnson said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Za’Niyah’s family during this difficult time.”

Threadford said Za’Niyah called him Daddy. He said she was always a joy to be around.

“We’re having a hard time,’’ he said.

“She had a beautiful soul,’’ said her paternal grandmother, Hilda Torian. “It was like she had been here before.”

“She was really smart, really fun, really sweet,’’ Torian said.

Za’Niyah lived with her maternal grandmother, who is still fighting life. Five other of Za’Niyah’s siblings also lived at the home, as well as her uncle.

The home is a total loss, Torian said.

A GoFundMe has been launched to help with Za’Niyah’s burial and other family needs. Donations can be made here.

“It’s just a bad situation,’’ Coleman said. “It affects the whole crew. They ask themselves, ‘Could we have done anything different?’’’

The chief emphasized the importance of sleeping with bedroom doors closed and of having working smoke detectors in the home. “This made a difference in this young man’s life,’’ he said of the teen survivor.

Center Point Fire installs free smoke detectors in Center Point, Pinson and Clay. All fire departments do the same in their communities.

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