by: Greg Suskin Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sara Roman walked slowly up Bynum Avenue Wednesday after checking on her four children at her brother's house. Her clothes were caked with soot; her face, arms and legs smeared with black ash and dirt. She had just rescued her children from a fire that nearly killed them all.
"I think we got out just in time. Still, I don't know how we got out," Roman said.
She woke up to a popping sound around 5 a.m. Wednesday. She saw smoke and rounded a corner to see the wall in flames behind her entertainment center. By the time she and her boyfriend Noah Renteral managed to wake up their four children, the flames were nearly impassable.
The front door was the only way out.
"The fire was on the whole wall. It was top to bottom," said Renteral.
They both had to force the children past the flames to the door because they naturally tried to run away from them, and not toward them.
"That complicated things," said Rock Hill Fire Department spokesman Rusty Myers, "because the kids were trying to get away from the fire, but it was their way out.
Roman noticed her 3-year-old's diaper looked like it was starting to melt as she got the front to door open, and got the kids out.
"He was just a little close to the fire. It looked like it was starting to burn. Oh my God, we were so close," she said.
The house did not have any working smoke detectors, and Myers said learning the details of the fire, gave him cold chills.
"This could've been much worse. Early warning could have gotten these people out to safety much quicker," he said.
Roman is just grateful that her children, Emily, 9, Valerie, 6, Aldo, 3, and Axel, 1, are alive and safe. Nothing else matters to her.
"Everything I love, my children, everything I love is fine. That's my first thought," she said.
She can only imagine what might have happened if she hadn't heard that pop sound, and woken up.
Rock Hill fire investigators told channel nine it will be a few days until they officially determine a cause.
The fire did about $20,000 damage to the home.