Fire marshal says Melrose fire was an accident

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Jonesboro police officers rescued a mother and her son from their burning apartment.

It happened Tuesday night on Melrose Street.

Larisa Johnson said she noticed something was wrong when a strong smell of smoke woke her up.

Fire Marshal Jason Willis said two candles were on an ottoman and the material caught fire. That fire then spread across the home.

"I came downstairs to see where it was coming from but it was already flaming," Johnson said. "When I went to put it out, it just made it bigger."

Johnson said she ran back upstairs to get to her son but the smoke was too thick.

"I couldn't see," Johnson said. "I had to find my phone to call the police and open the window so we could breathe."

When police arrived on the scene, the responding officer noticed smoke coming from the windows on the 2nd floor of the apartment.

The police report states the officer kicked the door in and attempted to enter to rescue the family but the smoke was too thick.

The officer went back outside where he noticed Larisa and her son yelling for help from a window on the 2nd floor of the apartment.

In the dashcam video, the officer can be heard urging Larisa to lower her son out of the window and drop him into the arms of the officers.

"I was telling my son he either had to jump or we were going to be stuck," Johnson said.

One of the officers successfully caught the child and carried him away from the building.

The officers came back, urging Johnson to jump out of the window so they could catch her.

According to the police report, Johnson froze up and wouldn't move.

The officers then entered the apartment with a fire extinguisher in hand, trying to put out a fire near the stairs.

The officers had to retreat after the fire restarted.

One officer then talked Johnson into climbing out the window and both officers caught her.

Johnson said the ordeal was very scary.

"I've never experienced anything like that before," Johnson. "I was scared, panicked and I was crying. I just wanted to get out of there and I was starting to feel like I was about to faint."

Johnson said she's thankful she and her son made it out in one piece.

"It was only God's will we actually got through it," Johnson said.

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