Neighbors speak out on fire that claimed 8-year-old’s life: ‘Flames were just everywhere’

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CANTON, Ohio-- An eight-year-old girl is dead after flames engulfed her family’s home in Canton Saturday morning.

"It was blazing.  It was blazing, and I was hoping that no one was in the house," said neighbor, Ralph Johnson.

It was just before 7:00 a.m. Saturday.  Flames were ripping through a home near 15th Street and Maddrell Court, Northeast in Canton. A family of four was inside. A little girl did not make it out.

"First reports were of heavy fire on the first floor and the exterior with a lot of heavy smoke was showing while we were in route," said Canton fire Capt. Charles Day.

Neighbors said when they came out, they saw the father standing outside saying that his daughter was trapped inside.

"I got out to the alley and the guy was screaming like 'my daughter was in the house,' so I'm dialing 911," said neighbor, Dante Brewer.

Canton fire investigators said Azzie Thomas was found dead inside.

"The smoke was so thick; next thing you know, windows got to bustin' out the back, and flames were just everywhere," said neighbor, Mattlyn Brewer.

"There was nothing we could do. That house was blazed; it was blazed when I came out the house, both front windows, the porch, the door," said her husband.

Canton fire officials said the girl's father, 52-year old Anthony Thomas; her 38-year-old mother, Tabitha Merry; and nine-year-old brother, Alex Thomas, were hurt and taken to an area hospital. A 15-year-old brother was not home at the time.

"I have grandchildren of that age, and you know, it makes me feel real bad," Johnson said.

Fire investigators estimate the damage to the home to be around $34,500. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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