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July 22, 2013

Mother charged in 6-year-old girl's death after house fire

The mother of a 6-year-old girl who died recently after suffering burns while home alone with her two young siblings has been charged with aggravated child endangerment, records show.

The mother of a 6-year-old girl who died recently after suffering burns while home alone with her two young siblings has been charged with aggravated child endangerment, records show.

Ruthie Lee Bell, 27, on Monday was being held on a $75,000 bond in the Sedgwick County Jail on three counts of aggravated child endangerment, according to jail records. Wichita police Lt. Doug Nolte confirmed the charges.

Bell was arrested Monday and booked into jail about 11:30 a.m., jail records show.

Authorities have said that her daughter, 6-year-old Jakara Dickson, died July 14 from burn injuries suffered when she was playing with a lighter. It happened shortly before 7 p.m. July 11 at her home at 3915 E. Countryside, near Harry and Hillside. She accidentally set her clothes on fire, and the flames quickly spread, authorities have said.

She was home alone with her two sisters, ages 4 and 7, police have said. The children escaped the fire with the help of a neighbor who heard the smoke alarm. Jakara, who had second- and third-degree burns on nearly half of her body, was treated at the burn unit of Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis.

Jakara’s two sisters were not seriously injured in the fire. They have been placed in protective custody, police have said.

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