Babysitter rescues child from blazing bassinet in apartment fire
RAYMORE, MO (KCTV-CNN) — A baby is now trying to survive severe burns and internal injuries after his babysitter saved him from a burning bassinet.
A warning to viewers, the pictures of the babysitter's injured hands are graphic.
Sarah Burks said her friend, Michelle Anderson-Sellars, was babysitting four children shortly after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in her apartment in the 200 block of Sky Vue Drive, which is in a neighborhood just south of Highway 58.
On the breezy night, she left the windows open. Raymore Fire Chief Randy Adams said the breeze may have tipped over something flammable.
"There was a report of a lit candle and also a report of a lamp in the area. Either one of those could have caused the fire," Adams said.
The fire chose the most vulnerable object in the living room, the 4-month-old baby's bassinet. The babysitter was in the kitchen with no warning that there was a fire because the smoke detector was not working.
"Once she heard the baby screaming, she noticed something was wrong," Burks said.
Without hesitation, Burks said, the babysitter reached into what she called a blazing bassinet and grabbed the baby, who was wrapped in blankets.
"She just reached down, pushed them off and tried to throw some of them in the kitchen and just grabbed the baby and grabbed the other three children," she said.
Burks heard her friend's frantic calls across the street and ran to help, warning others in the apartment of the fire. The babysitter suffered third-degree burns to her hands, Burks said. The baby's burns are even more severe.
"Twenty-two percent of his body are third-degree burns, and I'm not sure how the outcome's going to go, but we are praying and asking everyone else to pray and bring him back home," she said.
Firefighters came back to the fourplex apartment building to pass out fliers for free smoke detector checks.
The fire may have caused up to $200,000 damage to the building. The home and all of its contents are a total loss.
No residents in the three other apartments were injured, but their apartments sustained smoke and water damage.
The following day, the babysitter was out of the hospital and talked about the harrowing incident.
"I got burned from putting my hands into the fire. It was just a round bassinet and it was blazing. It was huge," Sellers said.
Sellers got out of the hospital the night of the fire. She has to currently wear special gloves to protect the severe burns on her hands. She said she's in a lot of pain, but there's no way she was going to let the fire that ripped through the apartment take the lives of the four children in her care.
"There is nothing that is going to stop me from keeping this family safe is my main thing. I turn into superhero mommy. I went superwoman mommy on these kids," she said. "I was like, 'get up and get out, get out, get up.' We were out the door."
Besides caring for her own two boys, Sellers was babysitting her friend's 4-month-old son Deyvion Griffon and his 3-year-old sister. She said it was a breezy night, which is why she had the windows open.
Sellers said she did have a candle burning in the living room when she got up and left the room for a few seconds to grab a drink from the kitchen. She said she came back to the awful sight.
"I grabbed this baby up out of fire. I kind of thought, 'Hot!' but I didn't care. My main concern was, 'Oh my God, is he going to be Ok?'" she said.
She said the baby is now at a special burn center in Cincinnati with severe burns to his face, arms and feet.
"They think he's going to be OK. On a scale of one to 10, about a seven. He should be all right. It's just going to be a long process, he's going to have a lot of skin grafting done, a lot of surgery. He's actually probably in surgery right now," Sellers said.
She is staying positive, despite losing everything, because she believes everyone survived because of divine intervention.
"God cleared that path because where baby's bed and where the fire started was right in front of the hallway. God had cleared that path, so I could get all these kids out and around the corner and out the front door," Sellers said.
Right now Sellers is staying with relatives, but she hopes to get into an apartment soon. She said the fire destroyed her children's beds and all their furniture.
Friends are taking donations for the other three children, ages 2 to 4 years old.
If you would like to help, send donations to 7900 E. 162nd Terrace in Belton, MO 64012. The clothing needed is boys' sizes 3T and 4T. Friends taking donations said anything would be greatly appreciated.
Sellers' friends at Spare Change Thrift Store, located at 1272 West Foxwood Dr. in Raymore have set up a donation jar to help the baby as well as Sellers and her two boys.
The store is also asking viewers to donate baby-related items, such as baby wipes and food, as well as furniture, so they can pass them along to the family.