Montreal Firefighters Save Disabled Girl

March 25, 2008
Fire crews in Montreal are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a disabled woman from a burning building.

Fire crews in Montreal are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a disabled woman from a burning building.

The fire broke out at an apartment building in the city's east end.

"I screamed fire! Fire," said Stephen Craft, who lived in one of the apartments with his family.

"I tried to go my bedroom door (but there was) too much smoke. I found my quickest way out. I punched my window and it broke and I cut myself."

Craft says he then tried to get his mother, but she was already being rescued.

"I saw my upstairs neighbour -- his kid was saving my mother, pulling her out (through) the backdoor window," he said.

"(Then) I ran inside, I covered my face and try my best to save my sister but I couldn't find her in the smoke, so I ran back outside.

"I punched her window to help her breathe better until the firemen got there. I comforted her through the window, talked to her."

Soon firefighters arrived, and they rushed to help. Craft said he screamed that his sister couldn't move. One of them carried the 10-year-old girl -- who has spina bifida -- to safety.

"I really had 30 seconds to make a decision," Montreal firefighter Andre Chartrand told CTV News.

"The smoke was OK -- from my feeling, from my experience. When I got in, I stood up and thought the heat is OK, I just have to move really quickly. I just took her, went out -- 30 seconds and it was done."

The disabled woman was transported to hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery.

"I am the happiest man in the world," said Chartrand.

Several other people also needed medical attention, including three firefighters and a police officer. In all, the fire, which was believed to have been sparked by unattended cooking oil, forced 20 people out of their apartments. Three apartments are considered a total loss, while nine have smoke and water damage.

The city will now try to help the homeless families find low-cost housing.

"We are looking all around in the neighborhood. If we can't find an apartment in the neighborhood, we go to the city at large in Montreal," said Serge Villandre from the city's Office de l'habitation.

The Craft family says the next few days and weeks will be difficult.

"I lost everything I own, except my life and the clothes on my back," Stephen said, adding his sister and mother only have their pyjamas.

"But you have your lives," Chartrand told him.

With a report by CTV Montreal's Tania Krywiak

Republished with permission from

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