ALLEN, Mich. - Banners and signs hung at Jonesville High School yesterday in memory of a 14-year-old cross country runner who died in a house fire that was probably caused by a faulty fish-tank heater.
“The freshmen class, they just melted together,” said Penny Snyder, Jonesville's middle school principal. “They put up signs on all the freshmen lockers, and I am sure they'll have a service for her.”
Fire officials said GladaMoss was pulled from a bathroom shortly before midnight by her parents, William and Trena, who saw smoke when they returned to their one-story home.
The Mosses had gone to a Litchfield restaurant to meet a friend, authorities said.
“They got in and it was extremely hot and smoky,” said Sgt. Ken Hersha of the Michigan State Police fire investigation unit. “They had to run in and out of the house several times in order to get to her.”
Glada, an only child, was found unconscious about 30 feet from the living room where the family kept its fish aquarium. Sergeant Hersha said the fire started at the aquarium, probably in an electrical device used to heat the tank.
He said the heater might not have been submerged in water as it should have been, causing a plastic aquarium cover to overheat.
Officials believe the sleeping girl was awakened by the fire but probably became disoriented from the smoke and couldn't escape.
She was pronounced dead at the Hillsdale Community Health Center.
There were no working smoke detectors inside the house, Sergeant Hersha said.
Results of an autopsy were pending, said Sgt. Robert Hanson, of the state police post in Jonesville. No foul play is suspected.
Glada, who participated in 4-H, was well liked at the small Jonesville school.