INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Sep. 14, 2015)--A weekend fire at a South side Indianapolis apartment complex injured three firefights, killed two animals and forced one woman to make a life or death decision.
It wasn't the beeping from a smoke detector that woke Siara Ward up, it was the sound of windows breaking and the smell of smoke filling her apartment.
"I was panicking I didn’t know what to do," said Ward.
Ward went into panic mode Sunday afternoon as her apartment burned.
Ward was sleeping when the fire intensified and closed in on her bedroom.
"I saw the smoke coming into my room so I jumped out the window," said Ward.
Ward punched out a screen window and jumped from her second story apartment.
She suffered minor bumps and bruises. Medical personal treated and released her on scene.
Firefighters from Ladder 35 initiated a primary search and heard yelling coming from the apartment across the hall from the fire apartment.
The woman, Sharon Bowen, 54, was unable to evacuate and yelled for help.
The fire intensity grew rapidly and heavy black smoke filled the common open stairwell between the two upstairs apartments.
Firefighters grabbed Bowen and headed downstairs.
Shielding her face with their bodies they made their way across the landing and headed down the stairs.
It was then that the fire flashed and enveloped the upstairs landing from front to back.
"Flash over is a deadly condition every single time there is a fire," said Captain Rita Reith, Indianapolis Fire Department.
"I've seen fires before but I've never seen one spread like that honestly ever," said witness Trevor Rheinhardt.
Ward didn't have working smoke detectors in her apartment. She lost a pet dog and cat.
"I will always have my smoke detectors plugged in and working," said Ward.
"The smoke detector would have given her a few extra minutes to get up and get out that front door," said Reith.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The three fire fighters burned have all been treated and released by the Eskenazi hospital burn center and will not return to work until cleared by a doctor.
The estimated damage to the apartment is $400,000. Ward created a go fund me account to help cover the cost.