3-year-old girl dies in Mansfield suspected arson fire

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MANSFIELD, OH (WCMH) — Arson investigators need your help to find the person who set a vacant home on fire that resulted in the death of a 3-year-old girl.

Police say someone set fire to a vacant home and the fire jumped to the house next door where the little girl was sleeping. 

There are currently no suspects and a lot of unanswered questions.

The Mansfield community is stunned.

Just the sight of the burned houses brought tears to Heather Layne’s eyes.

“I sat here and watched her watch her baby burn in that fire.  She had to go home and look at the presents she got her for her birthday party in two days,” said Layne.

Hours later and it still hurts Layne and her daughter Zoey Joplin to think about what that little girl’s mom must be feeling.

The pair were upstairs — across the street — when they say they heard cracking noises. 

Joplin said she soon realized it was a fire.

“I was banging on the door and the lady came out and she seen what was going on and she was shocked, too. We got all her boys out the house,” Joplin said.

She says she helped get all the woman’s kids to safety.

Eight people were inside the home but only seven made it out alive. Three adults and four children. 

Joplin says they soon realized the girl was inside but it was too late.

“She tried to run up in that house and get that baby. We got the ones out we could. I didn’t know that little girl was in there. I didn’t know they was babysitting,” Joplin said.

Arson investigators posted $5000 reward signs for information that will lead to an arrest. 

Both mothers hope the person is caught and the toddler’s family has peace.

“Pray for the families. That’s all we can do is send our condolences,” said Layne.

Authorities say a pregnant woman was inside the home and had to be transported to the hospital due to labor pains.

Neighbors told NBC4 she was the babysitter. 

They say she fell on her stomach trying to rescue that toddler.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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