Family escapes burning home

January 14, 2011 11:38:38 AM PST
There was a dramatic house fire in northwest Harris County overnight. A firefighter was hurt as he had to be carried out of the charred home after falling through the second story floor. The dramatic rescue through a window happened around 3:30am at the home on Gettysburg Valley Drive near Greenhouse.

We're told that the firefighter fell through the second floor and was dangling between the first and second floor, trying to keep himself from falling. Several other firemen were able to pull him back up. He was then brought out through a window and down a ladder.

He was transported to the hospital with a minor injury to his leg and is expected to be OK.

Ruthar Manuel says she woke up around 3am to blaring smoke alarms. She still doesn't understand how she was able to walk over flames and literally pick up her grandchildren and throw them to safety.

Two-year-old Zania, her 4-year-old twin brothers and 6-year-old cousin are now snuggled peacefully at a neighbor's house, but their burned pajamas tell a different story.

"They were hollering and the smoke was in there already, so the room was already on fire," said Manuel.

Manuel says her four grandchildren were hidden by smoke and fire but she knew she had to get to them.

"The carpet was on fire so I had to step over fire to pull them out the fire and throw them in the living room so they could come outside," she said.

Six of the family members made it out but that's when Manuel's sister made a terrifying discovery. Little Zania was still in the burning house in another room.

"I had to crawl on the floor and I was hollering, 'Zania, Zania, Zania' and I didn't see her," said the child's aunt, Lisa Jolivet. "I went to the baby bed and by then I bumped against her and I just grabbed her and started crawling out."

From across the street, they watched as their house was gutted by fire. Manuel says she's still grateful because she lost her house, but she didn't lose everything.

"The good Lord gave me life so and my grandkids, so I'm not worried about all of that, it isn't but materialistic stuff," she said. "I don't worry about that as long as I have them."

Remarkably, only one of the children was hurt. We're told the 6-year-old had a minor burn on his index finger. He was treated at the scene and is expected to be OK.

Firefighters believe the fire was caused by a space heater used to keep those children warm. Neighbors are working to set up a fund to help out the family.