Roanoke Rapids Fire Chief Stacy Coggins said Christina Tannenbaum first got her 5-year-old child safely out of the residence in the 700 block and then went back inside to get her 1 ½-year safely outside. The degrees of the burns were not immediately known, the fire chief said.
Neighbors said the woman was covered in soot and was developing blisters after exiting the house through a rear window.
“She saved both of them,” said neighbor Donna Harrell, referring to Tannenbaum’s two children.
The 5-year-old knocked on Harrell’s door after getting out to let her know the house was on fire.
Roanoke Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Gray said the firefighters responded to the blaze shortly before 8:45 this morning.
The call came in as a woman and two children inside. Arriving at the scene firefighters observed heavy fire and smoke coming from the front and side of the house. They observed Tannenbaum in the street with neighbors, who told them she had to dive out of a back window to escape the fire.
Coggins said after Tannenbaum got her children out she apparently entered the house again to retrieve personal items. It was not clear whether the injuries were sustained getting her children out or afterward when she apparently went back to retrieve items.
Gray said firefighters of C-shift contained the fire within 8 to 10 minutes. He said the house sustained heavy fire damage in the front and severe smoke and heat damage throughout the rest of the house.
Coggins said the cause of the fire is most likely linked to a space heater.
Cindy Peck, another neighbor, called her husband, who is a city police officer, who told her to call 911.
Peck saw Tannenbaum come out with the baby. “When she came out she was covered in soot.”
Harrell said neighbors have already started a fundraiser for Tannenbaum, who works at Logan’s Roadhouse.
She said clothes are needed for both children as well as baby bottles and baby food. Items are also needed for the child’s mother.
“We’re a very tight neighborhood,” Harrell said. “We always watch out.”
Harrell could not describe her emotions as she watched her neighbor escape from the rear window. “You just don’t know. She’s like a sister to me.”
Logan’s General Manager Mike Stettler said the restaurant on Premier Boulevard will serve as a drop-off point for donations. “Monetary donations, things for her children, anything that can help her. She lost everything.”