Fatal Fire In Independence Under Investigation

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

Officials investigate a fatal fire in Independence Friday morning. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

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By Richard Pratt

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa - Investigators believe a fire that claimed the life of a seven-year-old girl in Independence started on the ground floor of an apartment. But authorities did not have a explanation yet for the fire that started sometime after 4:00 a.m. Friday morning.

The fire broke out at a four-plex apartment building at 1100 2nd Street N.E. in Independence.

George Steinbron, owner of the apartment building, said two adults and three children were listed on the lease for the apartment. But he believes another adult, the victim’s uncle, was also living in the two-bedroom apartment. Steinbron believes that uncle was returning to the apartment in the middle of the night and discovered the fire. A next door tenant called in the alarm.

“I think he heard the guy out front yelling or something like that so he went out to check it out and then he called 9-1-1 and then he called me,” Steinbron said.

Steinbron identified the names on the lease as Steven and Jenny Posey. Late Friday, neighbors confirmed the identity of the victim as Jaileigh Posey, 7.

Rick Wulfekuhle, assistant Independence fire chief, said firefighters called in the State Fire Marshal’s office to investigate the fire. Wulfekuhle said the child who died was found in an upstairs bedroom. The two other children inside were also rescued.

Mary Close, who lives across the street from the apartment unit, said she hear the commotion in the early morning and went outside. She saw Steven Posey, the father, make repeated attempts to go back inside to get his daughter.

“I went outside and said what can I do to help and he said my daughter’s in there my daughter’s in there and there was nothing I could do to help him I felt so helpless,” Close said.

Close’s daughter, April Paul, was a frequent babysitter for Jaileigh and the two younger children.She described her as a sweet and happy child.

“She was really nice and we used to draw on the sidewalk together in chalk and we just had a good time,” Paul said.

Close said the children’s mother, Jenny Posey, was at work overnight and Close had to call her to tell her there was a fire at the apartment.

This was the 7th fire death in Iowa in 2013.

A fund for the Posey family has been established at the Security State Bank, 231 1st St. East in Independence. In addition, a community vigil for the victim and family is set for 9:30 p.m. Friday night at the softball and baseball complex on the south side of Independence.
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