LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – Firefighters were busy battling a fire early Friday morning in a quiet neighborhood in Liberty.
“I woke up 5 o’clock this morning and I thought my bedroom window was on fire,” said neighbor Lynn Jones.
Around 4:45 a.m., a fire broke out inside a multi-family home in the 3000 block of Green Acre Drive.
“I saw a whole bunch of fire. It was coming out of the roof, coming from out of the side and they were busting out the windows,” Jones said.
Neighbors said they woke up to the sound of children trapped inside the burning triplex.
“My dad said he heard the kids screaming, that’s why he woke up,” said Karlysha Williams, the daughter of one of the people who survived the fire.
Crews were eventually able to get the children out, but they needed immediate medical attention.
“They’re only 3 or 4 and they were stuck in there for a long time,” said resident Jordan Copeland.
They were stuck while crews battled the flames and fought through thick smoke and fog to get to them.
But it wasn’t just the firefighters and EMTs who helped get the children the medical help they needed — one neighbor saw the chaos and rushed to help one of the kids when she got outside.
“I saw her trip here and I picked up the gurney and started running over here,” Copeland said.
According to a report from dispatch, the rescue took about half an hour from the time the call came in to the time it took the ambulance to arrive at the hospital.
Liberty Fire Chief Gus Birch said the two children were taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in critical condition. They were then taken to Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron.
“I know there was a father in the front yard. He told us where the fire was and where the kids were. We were able to get to them quickly,” Chief Birch said.
Firefighters had a tough time getting the flames out. Flames had been up and down through the roof all morning.
“From what I can see, it looks like they did a hell of a job. They got to the victims quickly, gave them a chance of survival. That’s why we stress all the time we need manpower in these fire departments. We’re all struggling right now and this is one of the reasons why we need people,” Chief Birch said.
The aftermath of the damage was extensive. The roof was burned through and windows were broken into to help get people out.
Contractors said the structure is a total loss and they will be boarding up the triplex after fire marshals finish their investigation.
One fire marshal said the cause remains undetermined. Initially, the call came in as a possible dryer fire but that has been ruled out. The marshal said the fire started in the basement but the insurance company will need to conduct more tests to determine the exact cause.
Now, broken glass and charred wood litter the grass where just yesterday, those children were playing with a toy picnic set.
“Hopefully, the two young ones are OK. The building is monetary — that can be fixed,” said property owner John Dobrilovic.
Ten fire departments were on the scene, including Liberty fire and police, Hubbard, Vienna, Girard, Howland, the Youngstown Air Base, Austintown and Youngstown, as well as Lane Ambulance.