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AFD responds to East Albany blaze

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

November 19, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An East Albany family of four is now displaced because of a fire. 30-year-old Janet Taft's three kids and a friend were at home a little before 5 o'clock Wednesday when flames broke out.

The kids tried to fight the fire themselves but neighbors quickly jumped in to help get the children out.

Heavy smoke poured from the blackened roof of 302 North Carroll Street Wednesday afternoon. Just moments before, four children were inside the home.

"And they're screaming talking about 'the house is on fire, the house is on fire'," said 17-year-old neighbor Ursula Brown.

Brown saw the smoke pouring from the bedroom windows and didn't hesitate to run inside. "I'm trying to tell these kids don't you all know this smoke can kill you all," said Brown.

A 12-year-old and 14-year-old were busy trying to put out the flames themselves with pans of water. Brown was adamant. "I'm trying to tell the girl, you need to get out this house baby, because this smoke is fixing to kill you," said Brown.

Finally with the help of another neighbor the teenagers along with a 7 and 4-year-old got out of the house. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting from the front windows. "We've got about 45 percent fire damage and 100 percent smoke damage throughout the entire structure," said Albany Fire Battalion Chief Matthew Jefferson.

It turns out that all of the damage was caused by a lighter. "Upon investigation, we discovered that a 4-year-old was playing with a lighter and set his bed on fire," said Jefferson.

Jefferson says the fire can serve as a reminder to other families. "That's one thing we stress with fire prevention, to always put away anything that will start a fire--matches, lighters," said Jefferson.

He credits quick thinking neighbors. "Which was one thing that was a plus in our line of work. We didn't have to worry too much about rescue," said Jefferson.

Brown is thankful she was at the right place at the right time. "I feel kind of good because I feel like I kind of did something," said Brown, "I believe they'd be dead right about now. I put that on everything."

Although most of the possessions were lost, four young lives weren't.

The 4-year-old boy suffered first degree burns to his elbow. The 14-year-old girl was treated for minor smoke inhalation. Both are ok.

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