Sarasota community mourns loss of 11-year-old who died trying to save dogs from house fire

Sarasota County

SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – An outpouring of love and support has been coming in from the community following the tragic death of 11-year-old Rilee Beisler. Loved ones say the McIntosh Middle School sixth-grader died trying to save her two dogs from a burning home on Wednesday.

Grief counselors were on campus at the 11-year-old’s school Friday for students and staff who needed support or someone to talk with.

Parents and families across the area are grappling with the young girl’s death. Those who knew her well say Rilee’s final moments speak to who she was as a person and how she will be remembered.

“Oh, just totally heartbroken,” said Brooke Olivieri with tears in her eyes. “Because it was just like her character, she was a caregiver to other children. She was just a caregiver, whether it was her pets, whether it was other kids, whether it was her friends, she just took care of others,” she continued.

Olivieri saw the young girl’s big heart firsthand through interactions with her daughter with special needs. The two went to elementary school together.

“Rilee was a wonderful, caring, unconditional friend to my daughter Madison who has Down syndrome and that did not bother Rilee at all,” said Olivieri. “She just saw her person to person, friend to friend and she loved her for exactly who she was. She really went out of her way on a regular basis to make sure that Madison felt comfortable and knew that she was embraced by her friends,” she continued.

Fire officials are still investigating how the fire was sparked Wednesday evening. They had no updates to release Friday afternoon. The investigation is active and ongoing.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office released 911 calls from Wednesday’s fire Friday morning. They say multiple calls came in to dispatch right around 5:45 p.m.

You can hear panic in the voices of callers at the Sun N Fun RV Resort.

“We heard a lady screaming and we came outside and it is all on fire and she is screaming that there are people inside! It is totally engulfed,” exclaimed one caller.

The fire investigation is being led by the State Fire Marshal while detectives continue the death investigation in partnership with the Medical Examiner’s Office. At this time, the sheriff’s office says incident does not seem criminal in nature and Rilee is believed to have died due to smoke inhalation.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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