Firefighters Heard Boy, 3, Gasping During Apartment Fire Search

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 3-year-old boy was "playing with toys" at the hospital after being rescued from an apartment fire on Thursday. The child was injured during a fire at the Ruskin Place Apartments on Blue Ridge Blvd., on Thursday.

When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke and flames could be seen coming from the building.

"We come outside and come around and then we see the flames and then the mother, she came up and she say, 'My baby! My baby!'" said Alberta Taeborn who witnessed the fire.

A firefighter who entered the apartment complex said he heard gasping, felt around and located the boy.

"They’re crawling on their bellies, hands and knees, bellies and elbows, to do a search," said Floyd Peoples, Kansas City Missouri Fire Department spokesman. "They’re putting their hands under beds and in closets and everywhere. It is only by sound and feel that they can do a survey in there—a search. It’s by the grace of God that we find somebody in those conditions and get them out alive."

The firefighter rushed the baby outside where others had gathered.

"He was not responding," said Taeborn, who was visiting her sister at the apartment complex when the fire started. "They had him in their arms -- just rushing him to the ambulance."

The child was transported to the hospital in critical condition, but was later said to be doing fine, playing with toys.

The firefighter who found the boy is a seasoned veteran with more than 30 years working in the fire department. Peoples said the firefighter 'teared up' when he was told the boy was doing well.

Firefighters used three hoses to put out the blaze. The cause remains under investigation, but firefighters say it started in a ground floor apartment -- the same apartment where they found the boy.

"We don't get to say that and smile with these great outcomes on a regular basis," Peoples said.

Firefighters also say there did not appear to be a working smoke detector.



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