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Fire official: Actions of girl trapped in blaze probably ‘saved her life’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, April 19, 2013, at 12:41 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, April 20, 2013, at 7:05 a.m.

A 6-year-old Wichita girl probably helped save her own life by shutting a door between her and a fire that was spreading through her home last week.

A fire official detailed the girl’s rescue after announcing the girl’s release from nearly a week of hospitalization.

Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Ernie Schuler said crews from two stations responded to a house fire at 2308 N. Prince, near Grove and 21st St. North , shortly after 11 p.m. on April 12. When they arrived, they saw heavy smoke and flames coming out of two bedroom windows on the southwest side of the house.

There were about 10 people in the yard, including family members, and some of them told the first firefighters to arrive that a child was in a bathroom to the right of the entrance. They told the same thing to the second crew that arrived. Both crews rushed in, one after the other, but the girl wasn’t there, said Schuler, who was at the scene.

A crew led by Lt. Ignacio Ayala continued to search the house. When Ayala opened a door to a bedroom in the northwest corner of the building, he saw the girl lying unconscious between two beds.

She was taken to the Via Christi burn unit in critical condition with smoke inhalation, Schuler said. She was released Thursday and is back with her family.

“She had shut the door, and that gave her more time and probably really saved her life,” Schuler said. “That was a barrier between her and all that heat.”

It was only a matter of minutes before firefighters extinguished the blaze, he said, but the first priority was finding the girl.

The fire caused an estimated $40,000 in damage to the house and its contents. The cause hasn’t been determined, but an investigation is ongoing.

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