I live in an old farmhouse built in 1901. One of my biggest fears is my 2-year-old daughter falling from one of our second story windows.
It’s a long way down.
But as fire raged in her Portland apartment one Maine mother had to make the split-second decision to drop her three children from a second-story window to neighbors waiting below.
26-year-old Chasity Holtan was home with her three young children and two nieces when the fire broke out around two in the afternoon on June 29th. Smoke poured into the halls and 13 apartments in the three-story building.
Several neighbors called the fire department and started helping tenants get out of the building. With no way to escape, Chasity was forced to make the terrifying decision to drop her children out the window. After all the children were safely on the ground, Holtan then crawled out of the window and hung by her arms from the sill, waiting for firefighters to arrive.
“I was hanging there a good 10 or 12 minutes before firefighters got me,” Holtan tells the Portland Press while still shaking, her skin and clothes blackened by smoke.
Other children on the first floor were also lowered to safety.
“I was getting dressed when I heard a woman scream for help,” Harley Jones recalled, standing shirtless on the sidewalk. “I looked out the window and saw a couple people lower a toddler to safety from a first-floor window. I called the fire department and then I ran outside to help.”
Firefighters arrived soon after and were able to rescue a handicapped woman from the third floor by carrying her down a ladder. Smoke and water have left the building uninhabitable, leaving 33 people homeless. The American Red Cross is helping find them a place to stay until permanent arrangements are worked out. Unbelievably, no injuries are reported. Amazing, considering what could have happened.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Could you drop your small children from a second-story window into the arms of neighbors? Of course, you could if you had to but can you imagine that moment of looking into your baby’s eyes before letting go? What awesome teamwork from neighbors! Love a story with a happy ending!
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