Mom tells sis­ters how fam­ily nar­rowly sur­vived Parker County house fire

Star-Telegram - - Front Page - BY KA­LEY JOHN­SON kjohn­[email protected]­

“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 were res­cued from a fire that con­sumed their home in the 200 block of Kalinga near Springtown.

Sarah’s sis­ter, Leah McDaniel, re­counted the bits and pieces of in­for­ma­tion she had 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,” said Leah, who lives in Ten­nessee. “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 and 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 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 Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

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

The Parker County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment 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.


Leah McDaniel


Two chil­dren were among a fam­ily of eight taken to area hos­pi­tals after es­cap­ing a fire in their home in Parker County.


Sara Leonard wrapped her baby in a wet towel to help the child sur­vive the fire in their home.

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