Barbara Ponders dies after Fort Pierce house fire, rescued 8 year-old boy suffers serious burns

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- A woman has died from injuries she suffered during a house fire in Fort Pierce Monday. 

Family members said 70-year-old Barbara Ponders passed away last night in an Orlando hospital.

In addition, an 8 year-old boy who was badly burned, may be taken to a specialized facility in Ohio for treatment. 

A third person is also hospitalized. The fire started around 8:30 Monday morning at their home on Juanita Avenue and 25th Street. 

It's believed careless smoking played a part.

St. Lucie County firefighters performed a dramatic rescue during the fire and burst through the home to get the 8-year-old boy to safety.

 

Lt. Chris Longo showed off the blackened reflectors on his helmet and his charred bunker jacket. He and Lt. Steve Burns have each spent more than two decades with St. Lucie County Fire-Rescue. But rarely have they had to tackle a call like they did Monday.

 

"When we were standing by the window, you could hear the child moaning, and you just instantly react," said Lt. Longo.

 

With burns to his arms, Antonio Andrews had made it out. So had his grandfather and grandmother.

 

"She ran through the flames. Her whole body was covered with fire on it," recalled Andrews moments after escaping.

 

But still trapped inside was Andrews' 8-year-old nephew.

 

"It was very smoky in there.  The fire was right near him," said Lt. Burns.

 

Another challenge for firefighters is that most of the windows had bars on them so they used what is called a Halligan bar to smash in a window and clear away the glass before diving inside.  Once in, they found the boy on the ground in a back hallway, and the best way to get out was through the front door.

 

"Through the fire because that was the best way out.  Back through the window wasn't an option," said Lt. Burns.

 

 "You can't put too much water down and steam the room out because then the child won't be able to breathe.  We have air on us, we have to think about who we're pulling out," added Lt. Longo.

 

An air rescue team flew the child to a burn center in Orlando.

 

The State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire.  Initial indications are that careless smoking played a part.

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