Despite the efforts of Destiny Ledwell's big brother, other family members and neighbors, no one was unable to rescue Ledwell from her locked bedroom.
Relatives tell ABC11 Eyewitness News the 12-year-old was overcome by heavy smoke.
"It hurt me really deeply," neighbor Kevon Cole said. "It feels like a dream."
Cole says he is a relative of the Ledwells.
At least six people were inside the Nebo Street home when it caught fire. The family was awakened by heavy smoke and flames.
Destiny's brother, 16-year-old Christopher Ledwell, says he was unable to open his sister's bedroom door because it was locked. He also tried to get water from the kitchen but the water pressure was low.
Christopher said he ran out of the house, grabbed a shovel and started to beat the bedroom window. He pulled out an A/C unit and smoke came out. "I knew she was gone," he said.
Other family members tried to open the girl's window but could not, leaving her trapped in the home.
Durham Deputy Chief Fire Dan Curia says firefighters received a call about the fire around 7 a.m. Sunday.
"We arrived three-and-a-half minutes later and found a one story brick structure with flames coming out the windows," Curia said. Once on the scene Curia aid it took firefighters 20 minutes to extinguish the fire.
Investigators say the fire started in a bedroom in the center of the home but the exact cause is under investigation, but they say no foul play is involved.
The family complained of electrical problems and an inspector was called to the home Monday.
Destiny was in the seventh grade at Shepard Middle School.
"I can't believe it," Cole said. "She's just a little girl. She hasn't even lived life."
The family has endured three deaths in the last eight months. Destiny's brother says he will attend college next fall.
The Ledwell family will not be able to return to their home. The Red Cross is assisting the family, and if you would like to help, contact the Durham chapter at (919) 489-6541.