Berlin Heights teenager dies trying to save her dogs in house fire

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 10:27 PM EST
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BERLIN HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - An early morning house fire took the life of a Berlin Heights teenager.

The family said 15-year-old Rhianne King died trying to save her dogs. Her siblings said she loved her dogs more than anything which is probably why instead of saving herself by escaping out her bedroom window she ran towards the flames to try and save her puppies.

“She was trying to get the dog and the smoke got to her because, by the time my sister left her room, the smoke had already engulfed the entire living room,” explained Kaelyn Wells, Rhianne’s older sister. “It just shows that she was selfless and would rather risk her life to save those puppies than try to save herself.”

20-year-old Kaelyn Wells said the fire started around 7 Sunday morning at the home where her mother, younger sister, and brother lived on State Road 113.

“My mother tried to go back in and save my sister, but she got hurt in the process and had to leave,” Wells said.

17-year-old James King said it was a terrifying morning.

“I turned around to see if I could escape from my door,” said James, Rhianne’s older brother. “I opened it - too much smoke and immediately closed it then my door handle came off. Then I heard my mom tell me to push out my ac to get out through my window, so I was able to get through. After that, we were gathering up all the dogs that we found trying to see if Rhianne was anywhere.”

Although Rhianne didn’t make it, she did manage to save this little puppy. Two other puppies, a bearded dragon, and a ferret also died.

“She has some burns on her paws and her face,” Wells said. “We had to shave her because she was covered in plastic and soot.”

The family believes the fire was electrical. It started behind their fish tank near some space heaters they had.

“My family’s been in shambles since,” James said. “My mom’s the most worrisome right now, she’s barely keeping it together, so I’ve just been trying to help everyone calm down.”

The family said Rhianne loved photography. She had previously attended Firelands high school but was currently enrolled in online schooling and was in the 10th grade.

“My little sister was my angel,” said Wells. “She was my best friend, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do without her. She was everything I wish I could’ve been and more and seeing her on that table was the worst thing I could’ve ever seen. I raised that kid.”

The family said they’re now trying to find a new home and make arrangements to bury their little sister. They told 19 News the community support and prayers they’ve received have meant everything.