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18-Year-Old Killed In New Castle House Fire Remembered As 'Happy Soul'

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (KDKA) -- An 18-year-old girl killed in a New Castle house fire is being remembered as a "happy soul."

The fire Wednesday killed 41-year-old Courtney Payne, 17-year-old Terianna Payne-Hicks and 18-year-old X'Zavia Booker. Payne was Payne-Hicks' mother, while Booker was Payne-Hicks' friend.

Xzavia Booker
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Booker, a recent Laurel High School graduate, is being remembered by her family after the tragic fire.

"She was such a happy soul," the teen's cousin Teniqua Booker said. "Always happy, always smiling, laughing."

"She was so bubbly, playful. She loved shopping and she loved fashion," she added.

That is what Teniqua wants everyone to know about her cousin.

"It literally feels like my heart is broken," she said. "She just had her whole life ahead of her. It wasn't fair."

On Wednesday morning, the unthinkable happened.

Terianna Payne-Hicks, Xzavia Booker
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"Nothing was harder than that phone call telling me she was gone," Teniqua said. "There is a fire and no one made it. I just started screaming."

Before the fire started in the kitchen area, the smoke was so intense that it made it nearly impossible to see, according to the New Castle Fire Chief Michael Kobe. He said Payne was trapped in an upstairs bedroom and called 911 at 5:28 a.m.

Kobe said the smoke detector in the home did not have a battery.

In the end, so much heartache for the two families.

"She just got her diploma," Teniqua said. "She was just about to start college. She had a job. She had her head on straight."

"She meant everything to her mom, to her dad. She was a daddy's girl," she added.

The fire marshall is still investigating.

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