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Coroner identifies 7-year-old girl who died in Niagara Falls fire

Niagara County's coroner identified the 7-year-old girl who died in a Niagara Falls house fire Friday night as Hannah Lucas, one of 11 children who lived in the house at 1632 South Ave.

"I would suspect she died of smoke inhalation," Niagara County Coroner James E. Carroll said Monday.

An autopsy was conducted at Erie County Medical Center, but he said he has yet to receive the results.

Niagara Falls Fire Chief Thomas Colangelo said when firefighters arrived at the scene Friday, they were told that all the members of the Lucas family had escaped the burning building.

Tragically, that turned out not to be true.

After the fire was nearly extinguished, firefighters found the girl dead in a second-floor bedroom.

The parents, Luvone and Crystal Lucas, arrived home late Friday night and found their children fleeing the house because of the fire, according to the Fire Department. They called in the alarm at 11:18 p.m.

"One of the Lucas family children did awaken and see the fire and smoke and without regard for himself worked to get siblings out of the house prior to fire department arrival; his actions did save lives," according to Fire Department news release.

Colangelo said the cause of the fire hasn't been officially determined, but it started in the kitchen on the first-floor and spread to the rest of the two-story home.

A source with knowledge of the matter had previously told The Buffalo News that the blaze began with food left cooking on the stove.

The house had working smoke alarms, the Fire Department reported.

The parents learned of their child's death at the scene.

Damage was estimated at $30,000 to the building and $20,000 to the contents.

Gwen Riley, who lives across the street, said the Lucas family spent the weekend in a Best Western hotel in Niagara Falls, and she was looking for new lodging for them.

"They're not from here," Riley said. "They moved here from New Jersey about three months ago to find a better life for themselves."

"They were really nice neighbors," said Pandora Nelson, another South Avenue resident. "I've never seen a family like that. They all stuck together. ... They went to church every Sunday."

The American Red Cross and the family's church has aided the family. Monetary donations, gift cards and food, especially shelf-stable and microwaveable items, can be directed to the Lucas family in care of Morningstar Ministries, 2903 21st St., Niagara Falls.

"The hearts and prayers of the men and women of the City of Niagara Falls Fire Department go out to the Lucas family in this time of their loss," the Fire Department statement said.

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