911 calls from North Charleston fire describe frantic moments before help arrived
Multiple frantic, desperate onlookers called 911 Friday morning to report a blaze consuming a North Charleston apartment.
A mother and two children were trapped in a smoke-filled second-floor at Noisette Creek Apartments until the mom tossed a child out a window to a man waiting on the ground. Then the mom jumped.
“Oh, my God, the people in there just threw the baby out the window, and a lady just jumped,” the first caller to 911 is heard to say.
Reginald Curry, who caught the child, and a neighbor, Chris Cunningham, ran upstairs and into the coal-black, smoke-filled apartment and pulled the second child to safety.
Names of the injured were not released. The two children, said by neighbors to be a boy about 1 and a girl about 3, were taken to MUSC.
The mother was flown to the Augusta Burn Center, authorities said.
One after the other, callers told 911 all three victims were badly burned. Among the voices pleading for help, even as the wails of the sirens of arriving emergency vehicles are heard in the background, is one in which a 911 operator is told a child appears to be slipping away.
“He’s starting not to breathe very well... the mother is hysterical now... I need a fireman bad,” that caller says.
Among the calls are several that sound as though they are from the same woman, apparently overwhelmed by desperation and using obscenity laced language.
“There are three (expletive) people burned up... This is an emergency, you stupid (expletive),” she tells the operator.
“Calm down for me,” the operator urges, several times. “My partners are getting help on the way,” the operator assures.
The second caller to 911 reports, “Everybody is out but they need help. They are burnt bad.”
In response to an operator’s questions, the caller describes the portion of the building that is burning, the deep black smoke, and is told that injured are “two babies and the mother.” The caller tells the operator that the fire is “spreading all across the apartments.”
The operator advises the caller to keep bystanders away from the blaze.
Another caller tells 911 there had been three people trapped, but “not no more.”
The next caller describes the victims as having burns on the hands and faces. “The building is going up in flames very quickly,” the caller says.
“You send the paramedics please. The house is on fire and the kids and the mother is burnt, ” a caller informs.
A woman who apparently was trying to aid the most badly burned of the children described the child as losing consciousness and his eyes as dilating.
“I have a child right here that was in a fire, I think smoke inhalation,” 911 is told. “He’s not breathing and responding really well. I need to know what to do.”
The dispatcher tells her EMS on the way, and the caller says, “I know. Is there anything I can do while we wait for them to get here?”
The caller tells 911 that the mother is hysterical, and begs, “I need a fireman bad."
When the operator asks if the child’s color is changing, the caller -- owing to some confusion or difficulty in communicating -- tells the operator, “He is African-American.”
When the operator explains the color inquiry is related to his breathing, the caller states “He is so badly burned I can’t tell” his color.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Battalion Chief Eric Phillips said. He said fire crews brought the blaze under control within 20 minutes, but the building’s eight apartments were left uninhabitable.
The Red Cross is assisting 13 residents affected by the fire.