Grace Peerless, 13, of Terrace, B.C., succumbed to complications arising from severe burns incurred at a fire pit in her family’s back yard. (Photo courtesy Peerless family)

Grace Peerless, 13, of Terrace, B.C., succumbed to complications arising from severe burns incurred at a fire pit in her family’s back yard. (Photo courtesy Peerless family)

Backyard fire-pit tragedy takes life of 13-year-old girl

B.C.’s Grace Peerless dies of complications from burns to upper body

A B.C. community is grieving the tragic death of a 13-year old girl who succumbed to complications from burns received at a backyard campfire.

Terrace’s Grace Peerless passed away at the B.C. Children’s Hospital at 1 a.m. May 26.

Grace’s mother, Lynn Peerless, said the family may never know how the flames reached her daughter, only that she was alone at the fire pit around 9 p.m., May 24, when her hair and clothes caught fire. Lynn believes a hot ember landed on her daughter’s clothing with hairspray acting as an accelerant.

“She’s from the north — she’s been around fire her whole life. She’s a scout. She wouldn’t just fall in,” Lynn said.

Lynn had heard her daughter’s screams then found her consumed in flames near the fire pit, she said. She yelled at Grace to stop, drop and roll while her 17-year-old son used a garden hose to douse the flames.

Grace was airlifted from Terrace’s Mills Memorial Hospital to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. According to the family Grace suffered mostly second-degree burns to 30 per cent of her upper body. Doctors told the family Grace’s likelihood of survival was as high as 95 per cent but complications quickly escalated and Grace passed away within 36 hours of the accident.

“Everyone is stunned. I mean the doctors don’t even understand why,” said Lynn. “I was ready to help her through a very long recovery…at least she would be alive.”

The BC Coroners Service can only confirm a Terrace female in her early teens was airlifted to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver May 24 and pronounced deceased May 26. No other information is available until the coroner’s investigation is complete.

READ MORE: Sebastian Downing succumbs to viral infections

The Peerless family was told today, May 29, it could take longer than a year to receive the report that may explain the complications leading to Grace’s death, and perhaps how the flames ignited in her hair and clothing in the first place.

As condolences spread to the family through social media, Grace was remembered as a consummate storyteller, a happy teenager and an adventurous scout.

“It’s amazing how many people are coming forward, and I’m learning just how many people’s lives she touched,” Lynn said. “She was a true floater, someone who could drift through every crowd. It didn’t matter if your family was on welfare or you were the richest kid in school, she’d treat you the same.”

On Monday morning at the doors to Skeena Middle School, where Grace was a student, a makeshift memorial had sprung up as people dropped off flowers and notes.

School District 82 Superintendent of Schools, Katherine McIntosh, said resources were available to help everyone at the school move through the difficult time.

“Our staff and students share a heartfelt sadness around the loss of this young life,” she said in an email. “At times like this, as everyone else in our community, our hearts go out to the family and relatives.”

A celebration of life has been planned for Tuesday, June 5 at 4 p.m at Terrace’s the REM Lee Theater. A reception will follow.

The family says they’ve incurred close to $10,000 in expenses for travel and funeral arrangements, for which a crowdfund page has been set up at GoFundMe.com under Remembering Grace Peerless.


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

File photo
Paramedic training returning to Castlegar

Emergency Medical Responder and Primary Care Paramedic training to take place in Castlegar

Emerson Potter, a Grade 3 student at Blewett Elementary, advocated for changes to help him use his wheelchair on the school grounds. He’s seen here with his parents Lindsay Thompson and Keith Potter, and Blewett principal Tim Mushumanski (right). Photo: Tyler Harper
‘Pretty awesome’: Nelson-area student advocates for school to improve outdoor accessibility

Emerson Potter, who lives with cerebral palsy, had trouble moving around Blewett Elementary’s grounds

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

People will be strapping on the inline skates in Castlegar this summer. Photo: Jennifer Small
Castlegar Skating Club offers new summer inline program

New program will let ice skaters continue their training through the summer

From the left: Laura Greaves, Kyle Whyte and Steve Bigelow rescued a poisoned eagle Sunday, May 9. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay residents, Conservation Service Officer save poisoned eagle

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

Most Read