Girl dies, mother injured in Morrell Park fire


A rapidly moving house fire last Thursday claimed the life of a 5-year-old Morrell Park girl, despite desperate heroic efforts by an off-duty police officer and a city paramedic to rescue her from the burning building. The girl’s mother was also injured critically in the blaze.

The creator of a GoFundMe page to benefit the victims’ family posted on Sunday that Sophia Olsen had died and that her mom, Kristina Henes, remained hospitalized. The page had generated almost $10,165 of a $30,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the 3700 block of S. Hereford Lane at 5:25 p.m. and immediately saw heavy smoke billowing from a three-story townhouse. They were told that a child was trapped on the third floor. Firefighters entered the house, found Olsen and carried her from the house. Both she and Henes, 38, were taken to Aria Health’s Torresdale campus in critical condition with unspecified injuries. Olsen was later transferred to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and Henes to Temple University Hospital. The flames were declared under control before 6 p.m.

In the aftermath of the disaster, fire department commanders recounted a chaotic scene in which Henes had fled the house, but returned in an effort to save her daughter. An off-duty police officer who is a neighbor also tried to rescue Olsen, as did a paramedic, in the moments before fire trucks had arrived. The officer later sought medical treatment for unspecified injuries.

The city’s medical examiner did not release a cause of death for Olsen. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the city’s fire marshal.

Friends of the family quickly created the fundraising page, which identified Olsen’s father as James. Participants in the recreation and summer camp programs at Chalfont Playground began posting well-wishes on Facebook. Olsen took part in dance classes there.

Dance instructor Alexis Masino wrote, “Sophia is such a sweet little girl and I loved the time I was able to spend with her and her class. She is a very loving girl who is just absolutely wonderful to be around.”

After Olsen passed away, mourners organized a memorial event on Sunday at Chalfont. They made poster boards with photos of Olsen, her classmates and her mom, as well as handwritten messages. They mounted the girl’s tiny tap dance shoes on one of the boards. Masino shared images of the boards on Facebook. For information about supporting Olsen’s family, visit the “Sophia Olsen by Rob Lalumera” page on ••