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Six-year-old taken to hospital in critical condition following early-morning house fire

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) – A six-year old child at last report was in critical condition after fire took hold in a rental home on the city’s near southwest side New Year’s morning.

We’ve also learned what firefighters and a passerby did to keep the situation from turning worse.

The fire erupted at the corner of Taylor and Nelson Streets a little after 4 am.

The residence is carved up into three separate rental units.

It started in the back of the home.

Demarcus Morgan walked by and saw the fire.

He rushed over and called out to a woman caught in that rear first floor unit.

The sound of his voice guided her to a window he was standing by.

“I punched her window out and got the excess glass off the side so she wouldn’t cut herself and I pulled her through the window,” Morgan said.

In an upstairs apartment, a man and a 7-year old child were able to stagger out to safety.

But a six-year old girl couldn’t get out.

A hose line was placed between the fire and where emergency responders believed the girl was trapped.

Two firefighters broke out a window, allowing a column of smoke to rise and clear space for them to enter.

They shut a door to cut off oxygen to the fire, then crawled in under the smoke and found the girl, handing her out to another firefighter, who took the girl out to start treatment.

Assistant Fire Chief Adam O’Connor says the crews involved did exactly what they were trained to do.

Things got complicated for firefighters for a different reason.

“There was a live power line down in the backyard, the crews had to work around, that was an additional danger,” said Assistant Fire Chief Todd Prindle, who runs the department’s operations division.

Sonja Ayers owns two homes immediately west of the house that burned.

We asked her about the family with the little girl who was badly injured.

“I don’t know anything about them, they just moved in, they told me,” Ayers said.

The child is in a fight for her life, in a neighborhood enduring a painful beginning to 2019.

Jacob Burbrink

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