An Indianapolis man in his 70s accidentally started a disaster that displaced over 20 people and very nearly claimed the life of several others.
The man, who lived in an apartment complex, knocked over a chair, which hit a lit candle, which fell and caught a blanket on fire. According to a post by the Indianapolis Fire Department, he attempted to contain the blaze but failed.
Christine Culp and her two children — Elena, 3, and Ezekial, 2 — were on the second floor of the apartment, asleep, when the fire broke out on April 11.
But it was not their time.
“The grace of God that I woke up in the middle of the night,” Culp said, according to WTHR-TV.
“I just … soon as all the flames and everything in the front room, I just grabbed the kids and went to my room, put up a blanket, kicked out the window and just called 911 and I just stayed on, praying and staying on the phone with dispatch.”
Officers with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department were on the scene within minutes. Bodycam video showed the terrifying scene as they approached the window where Culp waited desperately with her two children.
“Please help!” she shouted, coughing. “I can’t breathe! I got my kids in here!”
Smoke was billowing out of the broken window by then, hiding the mother and her two little ones. The officers urged her to drop the children, one at a time, into their waiting arms.
Once both children were safe, Culp herself jumped down and was caught, as well.
“I just kept praying,” the mother said. “I just felt that in my heart that my kids were in good hands if it’s going to be the police or the firemen down there, you know what I mean? And, I don’t know, just the faith of God and I did it. And I’m glad I did. We made it.”
“100 percent ready,” Officer Aaron Laird later said of his readiness to get involved in the rescue. “I was, I was willing to put myself at risk and I know the officers were, also.”
The IFD said the man who had accidentally started the fire was able to escape under his own power and suffered minor injuries that were treated.
Firefighters also helped about 20 others escape the building and had the fire under control in around 40 minutes.
There were no fatalities, a fact for which Culp is especially thankful.
“I’m grateful that they were able to come and the quickness that they did and saved our lives, truly,” she said. “I am grateful.
“The grace of God and you guys … thank you so much, truly.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.