HOUSTON – A family was thanking firefighters Wednesday after four little girls were rescued from a burning home in southeast Houston.
The girls – ages 10, 8, 8, and 6 – were in their grandmother’s home in the 3000 block of Nita when the fire broke out just before 10 a.m.
"It was just blazing. It was on fire," neighbor Carl Lewis said.
Another neighbor saw 10-year-old Leilani Bradley and her 6-year-old sister, Keira, struggling with the front door and rushed over to help.
"The oldest little girl, she was banging against the door. I don’t know, it might have been jammed or something," Curtis Mitchell said. "I got the baby girl and the oldest girl out. Then they told me the twins were in there, so I got my hose and started spraying the house and by that time the fire department had got here."
Rookie firefighter Richard Mackert, who’s been with HFD for just eight months, was the first one into the burning home.
He found twin sisters Ariana and Alysia on the floor of a back bedroom, overcome by smoke.
Mackert and others carried the girls outside and gave them CPR on the lawn until paramedics and doctors took over.
"We really gave them a good chance for survival," HFD’s Ruy Lozano said.
The girls were taken to Memorial Hermann. Though they were still in critical condition late Wednesday afternoon, relatives said doctors expect both girls to completely recover.
They said they’re thankful for their HFD heroes – especially the rookie Mackert.
"If he only knew … He saved our family," Demetria McNeall, a relative of the children, said.
"We especially want to give thanks to the rookie," relative Aletress McNeal said.
Investigators believe the fire started in the kitchen, but the exact cause was not yet known.
They said the grandmother had left the girls in the care of 10-year-old Leilani, but they don’t know how long she intended to be gone.