, Gloucester, MA

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April 11, 2013

Fire claims teen's life

Girl, 15, dies day after Summer Street blaze

The Tuesday night fire that damaged a Summer Street home in Gloucester claimed the life Wednesday of the 15-year-old girl who firefighters initially found unconscious and unresponsive in the home, officials confirmed.

Neighbors recalled Victoria McCabe Schmelzer, who went by the name Tori, as a quiet and shy girl they might see playing with a ball or singing to herself in the neighborhood from time to time. Victoria, who was developmentally challenged and had special education needs, was not a Gloucester school student, and instead attended a special school out of town, neighbors said.

“She was a sweet girl. I would see her outside a lot,” next door neighbor Adam Rosell said Wednesday. “She always was just a happy person. She’d be singing outside; she’d be singing inside. She just liked to sing. And she’d come right over and say to me, ‘You have a cute baby!’”

Victoria died late Wednesday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where an ambulance crew had driven her after an initial transport from the scene to Addison Gilbert Hospital Tuesday night. A spokesman at Mass. General Hospital confirmed to the Times that the girl had been in the intensive care unit at MGH earlier Wednesday morning, but at the time had declined any further comment on her condition.

The nighttime fire in the yellow-colored, red-trimmed home at 36 Summer St. was found to be accidental and caused by combustibles left too close to a lamp in an upstairs bedroom of the two-apartment house, fire officials said.

A charred electric guitar, a bed frame and numerous books splayed out beside the home Wednesday afternoon, left there when firefighters cleared the burnt bedroom after tamping down the fire.

When firefighters arrived on scene about 8:30 p.m., they found four residents — two from the burning apartment and two from the adjacent apartment within the same building — standing outside the house. Victoria’s 17-year-old brother, Alex, lay sprawled on the ground, according to Deputy Steve Aiello, who was on scene at the fire.

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