by: Greg Suskin Updated:
SALISBURY, N.C. - Salisbury police expect to charge a mother with felony child abuse. They told Channel 9 that just after midnight a woman at Clancy Hills Apartments put chicken in the oven, but accidentally turned on the stove top. Police said she left her apartment, leaving her 2-year-old daughter inside.
The apartments are off Jake Alexander Boulevard.
On Tuesday you could still see boards shielding the shattered windows and melted blinds inside the downstairs apartment. Lashonda Moore helped rescue the child when she heard her screaming.
"When we tried to open the door, the smoke and flames came out. We had to get that little girl out of there," Moore said. "The smoke was so bad they had to start breaking windows."
Upstairs, Tara Updike was worried about her own daughter. She smelled the smoke rising through her floor just after midnight and ran outside to alert her neighbors.
"I was knocking on all the downstairs apartments, telling everybody to get out of here," she said.
Justin Ford was there seeing his girlfriend. He heard the child yelling and raced into the pitch black apartment to get her out. He found the little girl when he accidentally bumped her with his leg.
Ford doesn’t like being thought of as a hero and said the reason he went in there isn't complicated.
"There was a little girl in there screaming. That's why I went in there," he said.
He carried her outside and Moore, a home health nurse, took the child. She said she wasn't breathing at first.
"I held her down and put my two fingers in her mouth to open her airway. She started choking, so I started patting her on her back," she said.
The girl was taken to Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem and is expected to recover from smoke inhalation. Tuesday is the girl's second birthday.
Salisbury police wouldn't say Tuesday how long the child's mother was gone from the apartment, but told Channel 9 it was more than 30 minutes.
They said she was still somewhere at the Clancy Hills Complex when the fire started.
Neighbors all said they knew she wasn't home, but didn't know where she went.
"All I heard was that she wasn't here," Updike said. "I don't know anything else about it."
Salisbury police have a warrant for felony child abuse on the woman. They have not yet released her name.
As of late Tuesday she was still at the hospital with her daughter, according to police.
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