An 11-month-old girl died Tuesday night after falling from a ninth-floor window at the Skyline Towers apartment building in St. Paul.

Police spokesman Sgt. John Keating said investigators were still trying to piece together what happened but that the fall appeared to be an accident.

The girl was in a relative's apartment at the west end of the south side of the 504-unit building when she fell about 7:20 p.m. A number of people were in the apartment with her. It was not clear whether the girl and her family lived in the building, Keating said.

The girl was taken to Regions Hospital, where she died.

Late Tuesday, a piece of torn window screen hung down from the apartment window as what appeared to be a curtain fluttered in the wind.

None of the residents who gathered outside the building afterward said they knew the girl's family. One resident said a man was playing in the building's playground with his two children when the girl fell. Officers were talking to him inside.

Another man who said he's lived at the Skyline Towers for 23 years said he saw a young boy sticking his head out of a screenless window on an upper floor a couple of weeks ago. He told a security guard about it, but the guard did nothing, the man said.

Residents said the apartment building's windows lock and have screens, but that the screens rattle in the wind.

Falls from windows have been an increasingly common occurrence among children in recent years, causing concern among doctors and leading to new laws aimed at making windows safer.

Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis treated seven children for injuries suffered in falls from windows in 2009 and 14 in the first eight months of 2010.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that 3,000 U.S. children age 5 and younger are hospitalized each year after falling from windows.

Experts say the number of such falls usually increases in hot summer months as families open windows in search of cool air. Young children usually tumble out of windows from what medical experts call "launching pads," while climbing or jumping on a bed or table.

Minnesota lawmakers have tried to reduce the risk of window-related falls in recent years. Laela's Law required Minnesota builders as of July 2009 to use windows with fall-prevention devices in the construction or remodeling of apartments or multi-family homes. The law, named after a 2-year-old who in 2006 survived a fall from the fourth-story window of a relatively new building in Minneapolis, doesn't govern single-family homes or require apartments to switch immediately to the safer windows.

The 24-story Skyline Towers at 1247 St. Anthony Av., was built in 1972 and rises over Interstate 94 just west of Lexington Avenue.

By the late 1990s the building -- which houses mostly low-income residents, many of them recent immigrants -- had fallen on hard times. In 1998 a fire on the 13th floor sent 23 people to the hospital with smoke inhalation.

The following year, nonprofit developer CommonBond Communities entered into a $30 million deal with St. Paul and Ramsey County to upgrade and improve the building while keeping rents affordable.

Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252