Texas

Mom wrapped baby in wet towels in harrowing escape from Parker County fire, sister says

Watch Parker County sheriff’s deputy help rescue family from house fire

An unnamed Parker County sheriff's deputy was among several who helped firefighters and neighbors rescue a family from a burning house in Springtown early Thursday morning. Eight people were transported to area hospitals.
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An unnamed Parker County sheriff's deputy was among several who helped firefighters and neighbors rescue a family from a burning house in Springtown early Thursday morning. Eight people were transported to area hospitals.

“Six babies and my husband. Six babies and my husband,” Sarah Leonard kept mumbling to firefighters and neighbors outside her home early Thursday morning.

She wanted to make sure her entire family had made it out alive from her burning house.

On Thursday, Sarah Leonard and her family of eight was rescued from a fire consuming their home in the 200 block of Kalinga near Springtown.

Sarah’s sister, Leah McDaniel, recounted the bits and pieces of information she’d heard about the family’s escape. She said Sarah, between sobs, had been recounting what happened throughout the day.

“My sister woke up and smelled something burning,” Leah, who lives in Tennessee, said. “The people trying to rescue them thought everyone was gone in the house until they heard yelling in the back of the house.”

When the fire started, Leah said, two of the older daughters ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911. The neighbors followed the girls back to the house and started helping the family escape.

“My sister got some wet towels from the bathroom and wrapped it around the baby, so that’s probably what saved him,” Leah said. “I’m thankful for the people who helped them. If it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t have got out. My sister was too weak to get out herself, she was overcome with smoke.”

Sarah’s other sister, Rebekah McDaniel, said Sarah grabbed two of her daughters and was trying to find the bedroom window to escape the house.

“She tried to make it to the window in her bedroom but couldn’t find the window, the smoke was too heavy and it was too dark,” Rebekah said. “She said she was trying to break the wall to get her babies out. She laid down and was just hitting the wall and trying to get the babies out. She must have passed out and a neighbor or Jeff broke the window and started getting the kids out. They dragged Sarah out and her Jeff were just laying on the yard and Jeff just kept telling her he loved her so much.”

Once they pulled Sarah out of the house, Leah said, she kept repeating over and over; “Six babies and my husband,” to make sure the rescuers knew how many people were in the house.

Leah said the family was scattered across multiple local hospitals on Thursday and it was a “touch-and-go situation.”

Sarah was in the burn unit where she will be for about a week, Leah said. Sarah’s husband, Jeff Leonard, and their 4-year-old son were intubated, while their 6-week-old baby and 2-year-old daughter were taken to Cook Children’s hospital.

“The daughter won’t eat, she won’t drink. We think she is traumatized. And what 2-year-old wouldn’t be?” Leah said.

The baby was on a ventilator Thursday but should be taken off soon, Leah said. The three older daughters were discharged from the hospital.

“I just know they need everything. They lost everything,” Leah said.

A GoFundMe was set up for the family on Thursday. As of 5 p.m., it had raised about $2,000.

The Parker County Sheriff’s Office released graphic bodycam footage from an unnamed deputy helping firefighters and neighbors rescue the family.

In the video, the deputy is seen helping neighbors and Parker County firefighters pull family members, including a young boy and girl, from the back windows of the burning house, eventually getting them into an ambulance.

Parker County District 1 Fire Chief Stephen Watson said eight people were transported to area hospitals for injuries, some to Parkland Memorial in Dallas to be treated for burns.

“I would say four of them had injuries that were very serious,” Watson said.

Reporter Stephen English contributed to this report.

Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.


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