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Toddler rescued from burning West Tampa apartment is released from hospital

TAMPA — A toddler rescued by firefighters from a burning apartment Saturday has been released from the hospital, officials said Sunday.

One-year-old Makayla Bryant had been taken to Tampa General Hospital after breathing in smoke during the fire at the North Boulevard Homes apartments.

She was released Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Ellen Fiss said. Her family declined interview requests through the hospital.

Firefighters were called to the Tampa Housing Authority apartments in the 1500 block of W Main Street about 4 p.m. Saturday. The four-alarm fire took two hours to bring under control, did about $600,000 in damage to 10 apartments and displaced 28 people from nine different families.

In addition to Makayla, two people who were not identified suffered minor injuries, according to fire officials.

Firefighters strapped on their breathing tanks and went to look for the little girl after hearing that she might still be on the second floor.

At the top of the stairs, rescuers heard a scream. Firefighter Eric Stokes made his way to back bedroom through a hall where the sun shone through a hole burned in the roof. He opened the door and all he could see was a jet stream of water pouring in from an aerial fire hose.

As he tried to get the water redirected, two tiny arms latched onto his leg. "She ran into me and hugged me," Stokes said.

He scooped Makayla Bryant and head out through the hall. Makayla, wearing a diaper and a tiny blue T-shirt, stared curiously at the man carrying her out.

"She had little barrettes in her hair," Stokes said. Even an hour after the fire, he was surprised rescuers had found the girl.

"There was smoke and debris," said Stokes, 37, who has been with the department for 4 1/2 years. "The fact that she was conscious and breathing was amazing."

He'd never had to save a child before.

"It's what you hope to do as a firefighter, save lives," Stokes said.

Delores Williams told rescuers that she forgot about the girl in all the commotion of the fire, said Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade.

Williams said neighbors came banging on her door at Apt. 1512 to ask to borrow her fire extinguisher, Wade said. She obliged, but when they returned they told her she had to get out quickly because the whole building was on fire.

Williams ran outside. When she remembered the girl was upstairs, the building was too engulfed in flames to go back in. She told the firefighters, and they sent in the crew of Engine 4.

Fire officials said Saturday they had not established what the relationship was between Williams and the girl.

Wade said the fire started in 1516A, an upstairs apartment. Regina Jordan heard a popping sound in a bedroom and opened he door to find the room on fire. Her 7-year-old son had lit a piece of paper on fire and dropped it on the bed, fire rescue reported. The flames spread throughout the bedroom but both Jordan and her son got out safely. The boy was referred to Tampa's Juvenile Firesetters program.

The residents burned out of their homes would receive help from the housing authority and American Red Cross, officials said.

Toddler rescued from burning West Tampa apartment is released from hospital 07/25/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 25, 2010 9:13pm]
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