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6-year-old child found dead in fire in River Falls

Fire crews found two homes fully engulfed when they arrived and bystanders said a child was in one of the homes.

RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Authorities say a 6-year-old child was found dead following a fire early Friday morning in River Falls, Wisconsin.

Firefighters were called to a home fire in the 1400 block of S. Wasson Lane at 4:30 a.m., according to a news release from the River Falls Fire Department.

Fire crews found two homes fully engulfed when they arrived.

Bystanders told firefighters there was a child inside one of the homes.

Firefighters searched the home and found the child who had died.

On Friday afternoon, the child was identified as Zaelia Follansbee from Hudson, Wisconsin, according to River Falls Police Department. She was a student at Westside Elementary.

Officials say the Red Cross is helping the families.

“There was no intent or motive to intentionally set the fire that took place,” said Steven Cash, River Falls Fire Chief. “This looks like an accidental tragedy.”

Cash said the fire engulfed the home quickly, then spread to a neighbor’s house. All occupants besides the little girl made it out unharmed. 

Marianne Kranz and her grandson were out Friday morning when he recognized the home. 

“He said that he knew that little girl,” said Kranz. “He had said what do you think Grandma? Do you think she's Okay, grandma?”

She came by Friday evening to ask the chief if everyone made it out. 

“Just telling him now, it's really hard for me,” she said. 

She said it's hard to make sense of how this could happen to a little girl.

“It tears your heart rate apart,” said Kranz. “I think I'm gonna say they had found her. And that she's with God now.”

Family members have set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the grandparents who lived in the house. 

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