A 1-year-old baby in Virginia and his four older siblings are safe after a dangerous house fire, thanks to some fast thinking from neighbors.
Fire and Rescue Services in Portsmouth, Virginia, claim that they received an alert about a house fire at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time on Friday morning. When they arrived, they tried to discover whether there were any people left trapped inside the home as black smoke billowed out the back.
There were no adults in the home at the time, and the oldest child, who is 16 years old, was left in charge of his siblings. Though all five children had already escaped and three were unscathed, two siblings had been seriously injured. The 16-year-old young man and his 1-year-old brother were both badly burned, and the latter wasn’t breathing.
Luckily, Erica Barner, a mother of three who happened to be visiting a friend next door, had already responded to the commotion she’d heard outside.
“It almost sounded like someone taking a brick or something and hitting it against something,” Barner described the noise as the fire broke out. “It was like a pop or a bang.”
“We saw them coming out of the back end of the house, just burned,” Barner said. “The oldest was completely… you see skin coming off the oldest, screaming. You see the baby burned, not really making any noise. It stopped breathing, so his eyes rolled back. That was a lot. I’m sorry.”
When she saw the baby appear to lose consciousness, she said she immediately devised an impromptu means of resuscitating him.
“I dug my fingers in his nose, took all the smut out, went in his mouth and cleaned the smut out with rags and breathed into his mouth,” Barner said. “I shook him, pinched him. I just wanted to hear something, so I kept pinching him. I kept hitting his back, wiggling his arms, and I saw his eyes open. He was whining.
“It was a small sound, but it was good enough for me.”
Meanwhile, other neighbors reportedly helped contain the fire by cutting off electricity to the house. Fire teams later determined that the fire was indeed started accidentally due to an electrical short. The home did have a smoke detector, but it did not awaken the children, who had been sleeping. Authorities have since condemned the building.
Despite having likely saved the life of a baby, Barner insisted to WTVR that she isn’t a hero.
“I consider myself a mom and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do,” she said. “I would only hope any human being would do the same thing without question.”
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Author: Cortney Weil
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