Mom rescues kids from Belleville fire

August 26, 2009 12:14:43 PM PDT
Fierce flames in New Jersey forced dozens of people out of their homes in the middle of the night. But for one woman, she had the tough task of bringing out a child and running back in for more.

The fire happened on Washington Avenue in Belleville.

Elicia Matos knew she had to get out of her burning building, but for her, it's very difficult to leave quickly.

"I have a handicapped son," she said. "He has spinal muscle atrophy. He's connected to machines, so I had to pull tubes out of his stomach, everywhere to get him outside."

She handed her 1-year-old to a friend before she ran back inside.

"I have two more kids," she said. "So I ran in to get my two other kids, and as I'm running out, you could see a big black cloud of smoke."

Matos saved her family. No one could save their home. Heavy fire tore through it as police pounded on other doors, clearing neighboring buildings.

"Everyone says keep running, keep moving," evacuated neighbor Carrie McDaniel said. "Hurry. Keep it moving."

The flames jumped to a second building, where Wilson Gomez was just starting his record label, and where he salvaged what is left of it Wednesday morning.

"I gotta keep going with my business," he said. "I can't let it go now."

For some, the loss was great. For others, the sense of what could have been lost is overwhelming.

Because the fire moved so fast, the fire department is now calling it suspicious. The prosecutor and the fire marshal are investigating.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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