Children Saved Lives From Fire, Dad Says

Dec 8, 2002

TAMPA, FL - Keelan Jackson has his children to thank for saving his life Friday night.
While he slept in his bedroom, the children noticed that a space heater in their room had started a fire, he said. They rushed to their father's bedroom and woke him up, Jackson said. The older children then grabbed the smaller ones and raced out the door as Jackson tried to extinguish the flames at his home at 3504 E. 25th St., Tampa.

``We are blessed,'' said 30-year-old Jackson. ``If we all had been sleeping, there was no way we would have made it out of there. It happened so fast.''

Jackson suffered burns to his hands from the 11 p.m. fire. His seven children suffered no injuries. They range in ages from 2 months to 10 years old.

A Tampa Fire Rescue official said the fire was caused by a space heater in a child's bedroom. A blanket that was too close caused the fire, the fire department said. The Jacksons said the fire started when the space heater set a bedroom curtain on fire.

The fire caused $35,000 in damage, officials said.

Jackson and his fiancee, 28-year-old Bessie Danzey, said they lost everything. The fire burned $2,000 in cash they had saved to buy Christmas presents for their children.

Still, family members said they were happy to have one another.

``I'm just thankful that my children and my fiance are OK,'' Danzey said. ``I am very proud of them, and I love them so much.''

The Jacksons are staying with family and friends in the area.

Fire officials said space heaters should be kept at least 36 inches from anything that can burn including furniture, bedding, curtains, clothing, pets and people.

Reporter Jose Patino Girona can be reached at (813) 657-4534.

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