GIRARD - A Hazel Street mother and her two small children escaped an early morning fire without injury after the woman jumped out a window onto the roof with her kids and screamed for help until a neighbor rescued them with a ladder.
Investigators said they believe an electrical overload near a window air conditioning unit ignited the fire at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
No one was injured, firefighters said. The two children were taken to Akron Children's Hospital in Boardman as a precaution and released, reports state.
Rebekah Cook, who rents the resident from her father, Edward Kiepper, said she was sleeping in the her 2-year-old daughter's room when her smoke alarm woke her. She said so much smoke filled the room that she couldn't see her daughter's face.
She said she yelled for her 4-year-old son, who was sleeping in the next room. Once he got there, Cook climbed out the second-story window onto an adjacent rooftop. She lifted her kids onto the ledge, and she and her son screamed for help.
"He sat up there yelling with me for help," said Cook, whose face and hands were covered in soot later in the day after removing items from the home. "He's my little fire hero."
Cook's husband, Christopher, said a nearby boy, about 11 years old, heard the screaming and alerted Craig Smith, whose 552 N. Ward Ave. backyard connects with the Cooks'. Smith brought a ladder and helped the trio down.
"I owe him my life and the lives of my children," Rebekah Cook said. "My kids are my heartbeat. I don't know what to say. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough."
Christopher Cook said had just arrived at work in Youngstown when he received a call from an odd number. When he answered, his wife was crying.
"She was crying hysterically but I put enough together that I dropped everything and rushed home," Cook said later in the day while he, family and friends helped clear out their remaining possessions from the home and untouched garage.
"I don't care about all the stuff, I'm just glad everybody is OK and the kids are okay."
Christopher Cook said their alarm system is set up so when one goes off, all alarms go off. He also praised Girard firefighter for their quick response. Firefighters said they arrived about four minutes after getting the initial call.
Firefighters said the fire started in the first floor near the front of the house and spread to the upstairs, partially through a vent system that was blocked by a night stand.
The family had lived in the house since October and are unable to live in the house.
Firefighters estimated the damage at $30,000 for the structure and $15,000 loss for items inside. The family is staying with parents and in-laws until they can figure out what to do next.
The Cooks said they were able to get several personal items from the home, including Rebekah Cook's mother's jewelry.
She said the children are well.
"The only thing my son was saying is that he wanted his blankey," she said. "We're going to have to buy him a new one."