Fire claims 14-year-old Niskayuna girl

Police, firefighters continue investigation into cause of home blaze

— A house fire claimed the life of a 14-year-old Niskayuna girl, who was remembered by family members as touching the lives of everyone she knew.

Grace Kline, a seventh-grader at Van Antwerp Middle School, died on Friday, Jan. 4, shortly after being removed by first responders from a blaze at her 2241 Niskayuna Drive home.

In an obituary written by Kline’s family, they said “she was the light of her father’s life” and “she will be sorely missed by those who knew her.”

First responders were dispatched at 8:21 a.m. after receiving a call saying there was smoke coming from the home. Responders found “heavy smoke” and fire on the first floor. As firefighters attempted to quell the blaze, fellow firefighters rapidly searched the wood-frame home.

Kline was located in first-floor bedroom and was transported by Niskayuna Fire District 1 paramedics to Ellis Hospital. She was pronounced dead later that morning.

Kline was alone when the fire started at the home. Her father, Keith, arrived at the home shortly after emergency personnel.

The cause of the fire remains unknown as of Tuesday, Jan. 8, afternoon.

“At this point it is still under investigation, but as soon as that information becomes available it will be released,” Detective Sgt. Dan McManus said.

The Niskayuna Fire District 1 is investigating how the blaze began, with assistance from the Niskayuna Police Department, Schenectady County Fire Coordinator’s Office, state Office of Fire Prevention and Control and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

In addition to Kline’s father, she leaves behind her mother, two siblings and paternal grandmother living in South Carolina, according to her obituary. Funeral services were private.

Niskayuna Central School District immediately initiated its crisis response to notify staff and families, while providing support to the school community.

“We are all saddened by this tragic loss, and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and friends,” Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio said in a statement. “Those who knew Grace best at Van Antwerp said she was a warm light and a friendly face in the hall and in class. She will be remembered as an inquisitive young woman, who liked jewelry and music – and showing off a recently-acquired ‘pixie’ haircut.”

District officials encouraged parents to watch their child’s reaction to the tragedy, because children deal with death in many different ways. Even students who didn’t know Kline might be affected, school leaders said.

If parents believe their child needs support, school officials encourage calling their school principal or counselor.

The family asked those wishing to remember Kline to make a contribution to the Niskayuna Fire Department, located at 1079 Balltown Road, in her name.

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