If a child is left home alone, even for a short time, terrible things can happen. That's among the tragic takeaways from a fire that claimed the life of three-year old Lileigh Kellenaers -- and while her mom, Kristen Braig, and Braig's boyfriend, Dustin Blanchard, are suspected of child abuse in the incident, they injured themselves desperately trying to save the girl from the blaze, which started as they visited Blanchard's in-law, who lived 200 feet away.
At about 11:41 p.m. on January 3, according to the Greeley Police Department, cops and members of the Greeley Fire Department responded to a mobile home on the 700 block of 26th Avenue that was already engulfed in flames.
There, they discovered three victims: Kellenaers, Braig and Blanchard, Wyoming residents who were reportedly in the area to visit his mother.
All three were transported to North Colorado Medical Center, where Kellenaers was pronounced dead.
She would have celebrated her fourth birthday this upcoming Sunday.
For their parts, Blanchard and Braig were admitted to the hospital for treatment -- and they stayed there for several days.
Upon their release, they were arrested on suspicion of child abuse/criminal negligence resulting in death.
The reason: neither were home at the time the fire started, having left after Kellenaers had apparently gone to sleep.
They hadn't gone far. CBS4 reports that they were visiting Blanchard's brother-in-law, Sean Stoos, who lived in the same complex.
Stoos points out that his home is only about 200 feet from the place where Kellenaers had been put to bed -- and he estimates that they were gone for only about fifteen minutes.
In an effort to save the girl, Stoos says he kicked in the door to the burning home, but he couldn't gain entrance -- so Blanchard wrapped himself in a tarp and dove through a window. But he was too late.
9News reveals that Braig was released on a $10,000 bond after her arrest. At last report, Blanchard remained in custody.
The cause of the fire has yet to be officially announced.
In the meantime, a memorial fund has been created for Kellenaers. At this writing, just over $3,000 has been pledged toward a $5,000 goal. To learn more, click here.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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