Ohio Firefighters Fast Work, Too Late

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Firefighters said they didn't hesitate after arriving at an apartment fire where seven children were trapped in two upstairs bedrooms.

``We were getting up there as fast as we could to get to those children,'' Dexter Baker said.

Mark Frankforther, another firefighter who was one of the three to arrive first, pulled a fire hose up the stairs to the second floor.

He had to stop for a moment at the top of the stairs to spray water on flames that were blocking the second-floor hallway.

Baker caught up with him and they knocked down the flames in their path and began searching through the four bedrooms for the youngsters.

All were found but none survived.

Investigators announced Tuesday that a child playing with a candle, lighter or matches started the apartment fire that killed six siblings and a cousin on Sunday.

The fire started on a mattress in an upstairs bedroom where some of the children were playing.

The children, ages six months to 7 years, all died from smoke inhalation.

Normally, there would have been two other firefighters with the crew. But they were without a couple of crew members who were out on an emergency run called in before the fire.

Frankforther and Baker did not spot any of the children in the first, smoke-filled bedroom they searched.

Next, Frankforther crawled to another bedroom and used a flashlight to spot two children lying together on the floor near a bed.

Baker felt one of them, crouched down the hallway and carried the child down the steps. Frankforther followed carrying a limp girl.

It was the first time either had carried a child out of a burning building.

Once outside, one used a bag to artificially fill the child's lungs with clean air. The other started performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Baker helped the other children after his was taken to a hospital. Frankforther stayed with the child he had all the way to Toledo Hospital.

Firefighter Michael Fuelling, a father of two boys, did the same after helped a toddler out of the apartment.

Fuelling said the toddler and three others were near a bed.

``That 19-month-old was like my baby for 40 minutes,'' he said. ``I did not leave that child until she was pronounced.''

Fire Chief Mike Bell said the first crew arrived one minute after being called.

``We did our job,'' Baker said. ``We did the best job that could be done.''

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