Fire and police officials have completed their investigation into the fire that claimed the life of a 14-year-old Niskayuna girl, but some questions remain unanswered.
“The cause and origin of the fire still remain undetermined,” Niskayuna Fire Chief Dale Lingenfelter said Wednesday. “We don’t anticipate any change in that determination until new information becomes available.”
Grace Kline, a seventh-grader at Van Antwerp Middle School, died Friday in the fire that broke out at 2241 Niskayuna Drive around 8 a.m. A neighbor reported heavy smoke coming from the residence, and when firefighters arrived, they found Kline unresponsive. They transported her to Ellis Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Fire officials believe the blaze started in the kitchen and was contained to that area but haven’t been able to determine anything more.
The fire was not criminal in nature, and there were no electrical problems in the area where the fire started, according to Lingenfelter. Its cause will remain an open case.
Lingenfelter was also unable to provide any information about why Kline was unable to get out of the house. It is believed that she had a form of autism. Her father, Keith Kline, was heading home from work to take her to the middle school, which starts classes at 8:50 a.m.
The Niskayuna Board of Education held a moment of silence before its Tuesday meeting in honor of Kline. President Deb Oriola also read a letter from the Shenendehowa Board of Education members, expressing their sympathies. That district experienced the deaths of 17-year-olds Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers in a Dec. 1 crash on the Northway.
“We know how difficult these days are,” Oriola said in reading from the letter.
Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio praised the middle school staff for its response to the tragedy and helping students and staff through the grieving process.