‘A tenderhearted little kid’ — Grandmother remembers 13-year-old killed in Outer Banks fire

A 13-year-old-girl and two people from Montgomery County, Maryland, were identified by officials as those killed in a tragic house fire at North Carolina’s Outer Banks last Friday. As two family members and another loved one continue to receive treatment for severe burns, the girl’s grandmother said she’s looking for answers.

On Monday, those who died in the fire were identified as 64-year-old Colleen Cohan and 68-year-old William Deeg, a married couple from Ashton, and 13-year-old Sienna Farr, of Silver Spring.

Those still recovering are Sienna Farr’s 16-year-old sister, their mother 48-year-old Laura Volk and Volk’s boyfriend, 55-year-old David Brewer. All from Silver Spring.

Laura Volk’s mother, Cheryl Volk, said she had been able to spend quality time with her grandchildren and family in the weeks before they had set off for vacation in Kill Devil Hills.

According to officials, the rental home the group had been renting along the North Virginia Dare Trail went up in flames in the overnight hours Friday around 2:30 a.m. Two neighboring properties were also damaged because of the blaze.

Cheryl Volk said it was her daughter Laura who woke up to the sound of a fire alarm from her second-floor bedroom. She found her daughter Sienna and their family friends on the first floor when she first ran downstairs to evacuate the house.

“(Laura) said she opened the door, and the room became fully engulfed with flames,” Cheryl Volk recalled.

Hours after the fire began, Cheryl Volk was told that her 13-year-old granddaughter Sienna and their close family friends had died in the blaze.

Cheryl Volk said that before the tragic fire, young Sienna had been preparing to enter the eighth grade in the fall.

In remembering her granddaughter, Cheryl Volk told WTOP that Sienna “had the sweetest personality” and “loved making other people happy.”

“She was just the sweetest little kid you’ve ever seen in your whole life … She was very tiny, very petite and just had a heart of gold. She was a sweetheart.”

Cheryl Volk described Sienna as a “tenderhearted little kid” who had a very happy 13 years.

The reason for the fire has not yet been determined, but Cheryl Volk said the family continues its search for answers.

The Kill Devil Hills Fire Marshal, Dare County Fire Marshal and the State Bureau of Investigations said they are still investigating to determine the fire’s origin and its cause.

Rachel Tackett, a town spokesperson for Kill Devil Hills, told WTOP that “many hearts across the Outer Banks and Maryland communities are left to heal following this tragic incident. Please continue to keep everyone affected in your thoughts during this difficult time.”

In addition to mourning the loss of her granddaughter and the others who died, Cheryl Volk said she is also focusing on her remaining family, who are still recovering from their injuries.

“They’re not doing well … they have extensive burns, third-degree burns,” she said of the surviving victims.

Sienna’s sister, who was treated at a local hospital in the Outer Banks, has been released from treatment and is with her father, Cheryl Volk said.

Laura Volk and Brewer, whose injuries were much more severe, are stable, but they require continued treatment at a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, according to the town spokesperson.

Cheryl Volk said Laura and her boyfriend Brewer have always been hard workers who often find themselves out in the community.

“(Laura) goes to people’s houses and business and looks at their landscaping, talks to them and then, when she comes home, she draws,” Cheryl Volk said.

Cheryl Volk also described Brewer as a talented musician who has shared his gifts with the community.

“He is very musically inclined and he teaches music to their preschool kids … even 2- and 3-year-olds,” she said.

For now, as the couple work toward recovering from the deadly fire and the loss of Laura’s daughter, Cheryl Volk said she hoped that family and friends can begin to come to terms with the tragedy.

Laura’s car was destroyed and the family lost their possessions, but Cheryl Volk said, “That’s nothing compared to Sienna’s life.”

WTOP’s Mike Murillo, Joshua Barlow and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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