Three children critical after Port Richmond fire

June 23, 2010 12:23:32 PM PDT
Three children and their pregnant mom were rushed to the hospital after a fire Tuesday afternoon in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.

It happened around 2:10 p.m. in the 2700 block of East Madison Avenue. A woman who was passing by saw the fire and called 911, then flagged down two bike patrol officers who were on special detail nearby.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames coming from the second floor and smoke throughout the home of Debbie Proud.

A 1-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, along with their mother who is six months pregnant, were trapped on the second floor.

The 1-year-old, named Jake, has burns over 60-percent of his body. The other children, Nicholas and Christopher, are suffering from severe smoke inhalation.

Those bike patrol officers, firefighters and paramedics worked together to help the family trapped by the blaze.

The children were transported to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in critical condition.

Their mother, Debbie Proud, was taken to Temple University Hospital. She has been upgraded to stable condition, and doctors say her unborn child is okay.

Police say the grandfather actually helped get the children out of the building. His hair caught fire and was still smoking when rescuers arrived and, at first, he refused medical treatment. However, he eventually agreed to be treated and is now hospitalized on a ventilator for severe smoke inhalation.

Firefighters were able to put the flames out in just 11 minutes. They did find working smoke alarms on the first floor and in an upstairs hallway. Authorities say those alarms may have given this family a fighting chance.

The fire chief said putting out those flames was a tough job in this extreme heat.

"It was real tough conditions that our firefighters faced today," said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers. "But [the victims] wouldn't have a shot right now if they didn't go in and get them."

The cause of this fire is under investigation.