Children home alone injured in house fire

July 26, 2012 7:03:58 AM PDT
Two children were hospitalized after authorities say they were left home alone and the house caught on fire on Houston's south side Wednesday morning.

Officials say there were four children in the home on Nita at Dulcimer. The grandmother watching the four kids wasn't home when the fire began. Authorities say she had rushed to a store to pay a bill.

All four kids eventually made it out of the house, thanks to the work of neighbors and a rookie firefighter.

It couldn't get any worse for Kanitta Diallo. She received an abrupt phone call with the awful news about the fire at her mother's house where earlier, like every morning, she had dropped off her four daughters.

"I was told two of my kids were out and I was wondering where the other two were," Diallo said.

Twelve-year-old Leilani and five-year-old Keira were able to walk out on their own, but only because neighbor Curits Mitchell broke down the front door.

"No hero here, just a neighbor," he said.

Neighbor Tonya Newson had just walked outside when she noticed neighbor Curtis Mitchell trying to save the kids inside.

"He tried with all of his might to get that door open, to get those babies out," Newson said.

Mitchell knew four kids stayed in the house during the day, and he ran over, kicking the door in. Two kids were immediately able to walk out.

"He tried with all his might to get that door open to get those babies out," Newson said.

But there were two other kids inside, and still the question of whether their grandmother was home as well. Rookie firefighter Richard Mackert pulled out twin 8-year-old girls Alysia and Ariana. They were given CPR and transported to a local hospital where they were listed as critical condition in the intensive care unit. We're told they suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

"These guys did a great job," said fire chief Fred Hooker. "Once I got here, it was probably a minute to 30 seconds before they rescued those two."

There's thanks all around from this mother. She was much calmer when she talked to us and isn't angry with her mother. Her thoughts are with her twin girls.

"Thank God for that, that they were real close by and they got here quickly," Diallo said. "Thank God that my babies are OK. I can't talk to them and they can't really respond but they're alive, and I'm happy about that."

Once all four children were out of the house, firefighters say their initial investigation shows the grandmother wasn't home when the fire started. Known to neighbors as Miss Brenda, she didn't want to talk to us.

Family members insist the grandmother is a responsible caretaker of the four kids while their mother works during the day.

"It had to be a reason for her not to be here. She never leaves them alone," said Demetria McNeal, the children's aunt. "It's not a situation where she ever leaves them alone."

In Texas, children with the ages of Diallo's kids can legally be left home alone.

"When you're talking about school-aged children, there is no specific age that the law in Texas says you can leave a child home alone," CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin said. "It's really up to the parent to make a decision because they know their children the best."

CPS suggests that parents who are forced to leave their kids home alone should specify to their kids what they're allowed to do and not to do.

The fire department investigation is ongoing.

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