Four children home alone rescued from burning St Louis apartment, US
Fire fighters rescued four children, three in cardiac arrest, from a burning home on Thursday, 15 August 2019, near St Louis' Lafayette Square neighbourhood. At least six fire engines responded just before 13h00 to 1326 Ohio Avenue where a fire was burning on the second storey, fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said. Fire fighters didn't initially know children were in the home, he said. A preliminary search found the four children, all under the age of four. One was in a closet, two in a children's play tent and a fourth near a closed door. When fire fighters carried the children out of the burning building, three were in cardiac arrest, Jenkerson said. Emergency responders performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the street and rushed the children to a hospital. One was initially listed in critical, unstable condition but by around 15h15 all were breathing on their own and considered stable.
"But for the grace of God, we have four children that are still alive now," Jenkerson said. The hospital planned to keep three overnight for observation after suffering from smoke inhalation.
The children, including 18-month-old twins, were home alone, Jenkerson said. They lived in an apartment, part of a three-family flat west of Jefferson Avenue in a housing development with about 60 units spread across multiple red brick buildings. Residents called the complex the Lafayette Family apartments. The apartment is managed by the Sansone Group. Managers on scene declined to comment.
Firefighters were called to the scene after passersby saw smoke, officials said. Neighbour Mary McNary, 42, said her 17-year-old daughter had just taken their dog outside and noticed the boxer mix kept staring at the building next door. When McNary's daughter looked up, she saw fire breaking through the second story windows. They called 911 and then watched fire fighters carry a baby and a toddler, arms and legs dangling, out of the building.
“It brought tears to all our eyes just to see them come out like that," McNary said. Soon thereafter, a woman and a man, whom McNary said were the parents of at least some of the children, came running from the alley toward the home.
By 13h20, fire fighters had the blaze under control; neither flames nor smoke were visible. By 14h00 fire fighters were shovelling wet insulation out of broken windows, walls charred black behind them, roof rafters exposed.
Inside the unit, a double stroller sat in the kitchen, boxes of cereal on top of the refrigerator and baby photos on the wall.
As neighbours came home from school and work on Thursday afternoon, they eyed the debris and wondered why children were left alone at such a young age. Vanessa Anthony, 63, who works at a preschool, lives across the street. "We need to do better taking care of our kids, taking care of our babies," she said. "I am at a loss for words right now."
Officials said the incident is under investigation. At least one smoke detector was broken in the children's playroom, they said.
Officials did not identify the family.
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch