Capital murder charges have been filed against 46-year-old Tracy Bush for allegedly starting a fire in a northeast Houston home early Sunday that killed a 5-year-old relative and injured two others.
Anthony Miller heard his young cousin, Brastaya Peace, crying out for help seconds after he and his wife narrowly escaped the blaze in the family’s home in the 14500 block of Red Tailed Hawk.
“She screamed my aunt’s name and said, ‘Come get me.’ That’s how we found out she was still in the house,” Miller said.
He and his wife thought Brastaya had gone to church with their grandmother.
Brastaya was flown by Life Flight helicopter to Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital, where she died, a Houston Fire Department spokesman said.
Bush, Miller’s uncle, is charged with starting the fire. Bush had a long-standing feud with the family, including a fight as recently as Saturday over the ownership of a bicycle, Miller said.
Bush had threatened the family’s safety, he said. “He’s pure evil,” Miller said.
Authorities would not disclose details on their evidence against Bush.
Heavy smoke and flames poured from the front of the two-story brick home when Houston firefighters arrived at the scene shortly before 9:30 a.m.
“They had to go around back just to get into the house,” HFD Assistant Chief Jack Williams said.
The firefighters forced their way into the home and found the girl, who had suffered severe burns in the fire. Family members said she was discovered in an upstairs bedroom.
“We brought her out and immediately started life-saving procedures on her,” Williams said.
A woman, believed to be Brastaya’s aunt, suffered burns to her feet, arms and hands. She was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Williams said, adding that her injuries did not appear life-threatening.
Also hospitalized Sunday was a neighbor who propped a ladder against the home in an apparent rescue attempt.
“He tried to go inside, but it was just too smoky,” Williams said. “He got in enough to inhale a bunch of smoke.”
A teary-eyed Miller described his young cousin as having a “bubbly” personality.
“She’s very talkative and very outspoken,” he said.
Several nearby residents watched in stunned silence from across the street as firefighters continued moving through the burned-out home.
Neighbor David Wright said he last saw Brastaya on Saturday as she played with his children, who are about the same age.
“She was a really nice girl. She would ride her bike up and down the street,” Wright said. “It’s just a shame.”
Several neighbors grabbed garden hoses in a bid to battle the flames, but, their efforts quickly were overwhelmed by the raging blaze.
“That’s what we do. We’re neighbors and we look out for each other,” Aldo Rodriguez said.
HFD arson officers were at the scene later Sunday to try to determine how the fatal fire began.
“We won’t have a cause on the fire until the investigation is complete. It could be weeks,” Williams said.
No further information on the case was available.