Callie Bass was one of three children in her Long Beach apartment Monday afternoon. When the fire ignited, her 11 year old brother and six year old sister ran to safety. But Callie didn't.
On Tuesday morning, the fire department returned to the scene and searched for the lighter Callie was playing with. Investigators determined the fire was an accident.
While Long Beach firemen dug for clues, Callie Bass's older sister relived the Monday tragedy. Kim Bass said Callie "lit a cheese wrapper and it got out of control on the bed and caught the mattress on fire."
Eight year old Callie was in the burning bedroom with her six year old sister Peyton. "When it wouldn't go out," Kim said, "they both went in the closet. And Peyton ran out and tried to get Callie, but Callie wouldn't come out, because she was scared she would get in trouble."
Long Beach firemen arrived on the scene two minutes after getting the fire call. Investigator Mike Brown said firemen knew Callie was trapped in the closet. "But we did have to control the fire before we could even put a search team inside," he said.
Valerie Kennard lives in the Gulf Water apartment complex. She recreated how a group of neighbors tried to save the little girl. Kennard said, "I kept telling the boys, come on y'all help me get this baby out. It was just too hot." Tears came to her eyes as she described the scene. "It hurts me because I knew the little girl," said Kennard. "It's terrible. It's a tragedy."
For the family, "It's been pure torture," Kim Bass said. "It's like living a nightmare."
Bass agreed to relive her sister's tragedy so she could warn other families about the dangers of playing with fire. "It could get out of control in a heartbeat. That's what happened," she said. "Within a minute the room exploded and she didn't have time to get out. You can't play with lighters or matches, it's nothing to joke about."
A red rose was placed in front of Callie's apartment. It was there to remember the little eight year old girl who died in Monday's fire.
Callie's father was also in the apartment when the fire started. Ronnie Bass remains in stable condition at Gulfport Memorial Hospital.
The Bass family didn't have insurance on its apartment. So an account has been established at Hancock Bank to help the family recover.