Independence mother and daughter injured in duplex fire

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A mother and her seven-year-old daughter are fighting for their lives Friday, after their home caught fire overnight. It happened near West 24th Street and South Park Avenue.

A neighbor in the duplex woke up just after 3 a.m. to the smell of smoke. Jada Blevins quickly realized the fire was not in her home but next door.

Latoya Mitchell and her young daughter, Symone Stigger, were inside the burning duplex. When no one responded to repeated pounding on their door, a police officer kicked the door in, and pulled the girl from the bedroom. Firefighters later found her mother.

Blevins says it's scary to think what could have happened if she did not wake up.

"When I opened the back door to check and see if it was the neighbor's, all I seen was nothing but black smoke around the door," Blevins said. "All I seen was that, and I thought, 'Oh my God call 911.'"

Blevins says Mitchell suffered burns to her body. She's listed in critical condition at Research Medical Center. Her daughter, Symone, is being treated at the University of Kansas Hospital. Neighbors report that she was conscious and talking with police before she left for the hospital.

Firefighters are investigating the cause of the blaze, but believe it originated in the kitchen. A burned microwave has been pulled out of the home.

Blevins claims neither home in the duplex had working smoke detectors. As soon as the stores opened in the morning, Blevins says she went out to buy fresh batteries for her smoke alarm. That's a lesson she says she doesn't want to learn again.

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