LAKEWOOD - Around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning, a fire broke out at a home in Lakewood. A husband, wife, and son got out, but a 5-year-old girl was still trapped inside on the second floor.
"We knew that we had to get in there and get her out as fast as we could," David Dame, West Metro Firefighter, said.
Dame and fellow firefighter Seth Major entered the burning home, but they were essentially blind.
"When we went in the interior of the house, there was zero visibility, the smoke was pretty thick," Major said.
They tried to use a thermal imaging camera to locate the little girl.
"But, it was all blank because everything was the same temperature," Dame said. "The walls were the same temperature, the floor, the ceiling, the air, everything was the same. One of our best tools wasn't working very well for us."
Dame started calling out to the girl who answered him, he says. She was hiding in her bedroom closet too scared to come out.
"When I got to her unfortunately, she was hiding in the closet. She was terrified. She was a little bit difficult to coax out of the closet. That took a couple extra seconds," Dame said.
They got her out of the house and she and her father were taken to the Swedish Medical Center for smoke inhalation.
"Unfortunately, I don't think it's all that unusual. When children get scared, they try to hide. We try to train parents to have their children not hide," Dame said. "When we do presentations with little kids, we teach them please don't hide from us. We put on our gear to them what we're going to look like, so they're not scared if they see you in person."
Lt. Rich Klein says the rescue could have gone wrong in several different ways.
"Ceiling collapse, floor collapse," Klein said. "There was fire from end to end, top to bottom," Klein said.
However, he says the operation was carried out flawlessly.
"I'm getting a little choked up cause I'm proud of them," Klein said.
The fire started outside on the back deck. Investigators have not determined a cause.
Dame says parents should practice fire drills with their children. Kids should always know at least two ways out of the house. He says each family should have a designated meeting point outside of the home in case of a fire.
Same and Major both have daughters around the same age as the victim.
"Well, it's tough," Dame said. "This one hit home."
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