A 13-month-old girl died Wednesday after suffering burns on 80 percent to 90 percent of her body in an early morning fire in Coeur d’Alene.
Kylla Pahl was on a couch in the known drug house – alone except for a Rottweiler – when an unattended candle ignited a dried floral arrangement, according to Coeur d’Alene police. Her mother and a man were in a car behind the home when the fire broke out around 6:30 a.m., police said.
The girl, who neighbors described as a beautiful child, was born with methamphetamine in her system and raised in a troubled home, according to court records.
Neighbor Teresa Alexander said she was in her basement apartment next door when she smelled smoke. She looked outside and saw smoke pouring from under the eaves of the white house where Kylla lived and called 911.
Alexander said Kylla’s mom, 26-year-old Megan Longoria, said the baby was inside.
The man who was with Longoria and Alexander’s husband, Stacey, broke down the door to get into the home. The man brought the girl outside, where Stacey Alexander performed CPR on Kylla.
“It was bad. Her little body was so burned,” Teresa Alexander said.
Her husband said the image of the critically injured girl is something he hopes to never see again.
The Alexanders stood in front of the severely damaged home at 1009 N. C St. on Wednesday and cried with other neighbors. They placed stuffed animals, balloons and flowers in front of the yellow tape that investigators had strung across the yard.
“She was adorable,” Teresa Alexander said as she showed a picture she had taken of the girl three days earlier. “She had fair skin, big brown eyes. She loved SpongeBob.”
The Alexanders said they didn’t know the family well and had never been inside the home, but they had baby-sat the girl in their apartment for a while on Sunday.
Teresa Alexander said Longoria called her late Wednesday morning from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where Kylla had been airlifted from Kootenai Medical Center.
She said Longoria told her they were having Kylla baptized at the hospital because they didn’t think she would live.
Investigators said flames were limited to one room in the front of the home, but there was damage throughout the home from the smoke and heat.
The Rottweiler that was in the house was unconscious when firefighters responded to the scene, but they were able to revive the dog using oxygen.
Neighbors said Wednesday that Kylla had siblings, but no other children were at the home when the fire broke out.
Fire investigators and police were at the house much of the day investigating the cause of the fire. Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood said they were also investigating “any other possible criminal activity” at the home.
Kootenai Medical Center staff called police when Kylla was born on June 12, 2005, because both mother and child tested positive for methamphetamine, according to court records.
The day she was born, Kylla was taken into the custody of the state Child Protective Services. The Coeur d’Alene city attorney’s office filed a misdemeanor injury to child charge against Longoria on Aug. 9, 2005.
Then on Sept. 28, 2005, police served a search warrant at the C Street home and found drugs. Longoria was in the home with two children at the time. Court documents didn’t specify whether they were Kylla’s siblings.
After the search turned up multiple syringes and methamphetamine throughout the home, Kylla’s father, 40-year-old Kelley D. Pahl, was arrested on drug charges. He has yet to be tried on those charges.
Two months later, on Nov. 23, the city attorney’s office dismissed the injury to child charge against Longoria.
In dismissing the case, the city attorney’s office said, “The defendant has completed programs required by the Department of Health and Welfare, and it would be in the best interest of justice.”
Deputy City Attorney Roy Gowey said Wednesday that Longoria’s case worker wrote a letter to the city attorney’s office the day they dismissed the case, saying Longoria had taken some classes through Health and Welfare and submitted to drug testing.
The letter “indicated she had done a wonderful job in the urinalysis testing and demonstrated she was a responsible parent,” Gowey said.
The case worker said in the letter that they had visited Longoria’s home and planned to restore full parental rights.
City Attorney Mike Gridley said the letter from Health and Welfare was the reason charges against Longoria were dismissed.
Kylla’s father was in the Kootenai County Jail on Wednesday when the home caught fire. He had been arrested on a warrant out of Spokane.
Spokane Deputy Prosecutor Shane Smith said he obtained a bench warrant for Kelley Pahl on July 14 after he failed to show up to a pretrial conference on a charge of possession of a controlled substance.
He was charged March 27 after he was searched during an arrest for not having a valid operator’s license, and meth was found in his pocket.
On Wednesday, Smith recalled the July 14 warrant so Pahl could be released from jail.
“I’m recalling our warrant so he can deal with that situation,” Smith said of the child’s death.