Massachusetts Baby Sitter Saves 4 Children from Fire

WHITMAN, Mass. --

A baby sitter who rescued four children from a deadly fire in Whitman on Saturday was burned when she ran back into the house to try to save their grandmother, The Patriot Ledger reports.

Helena Drass, 73, was killed in the fire, which started shortly after 1 a.m. at a home at 15 Newland Drive.

The paper reported that the baby sitter, whose name was not released, called 911 and shuttled the children out of the home when the fire broke out. The woman then tried to rescue Drass, but the flames were too intense to reach her, Fire Chief Tim Grenno said.

Drass was trapped on the second floor of the two-story wood frame house, which was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Grenno said the fire was being fed by home oxygen equipment and spread rapidly through the structure.

"The fire was so intense it did more damage in 10 minutes than most fires do in 30 minutes," Grenno told the Patriot Ledger. Grenno said that firefighters made an "aggressive rescue attempt," but were forced back by extreme heat and fire.

The baby sitter suffered burns to her hands in the rescue attempt. She was treated and released from Brockton hospital. A firefighter who tried to reach Drass was also treated for minor injuries.

Drass lived at the home with her daughter, Staci, and four grandchildren, according to the Patriot Ledger. The baby sitter was watching the children while their mother was out of town when the fire broke out.

"She truly is a hero," Grenno told the Patriot Ledger. "If she hadn't made the quick decision to evacuate the children when she did this would have been much worse," Grenno said. "I give her a lot of credit for having a solid head in a time of crisis."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but does not appear to be suspicious. Damage from the blaze is estimated at $80,000, the paper reports.

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