LONGVIEW — Brittany Ashby’s maternal instincts took over Tuesday night when a house fire forced her to escape through a second-story window with two small children in tow. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, Ashby was about to tuck her 2-month-old son Gunner and his 1-year-old sister Sophie in bed when she smelled smoke. She tried to find out where it was coming from but only made it to a smaller room beside hers. “The smoke was already so strong. I couldn’t go any further. I panicked and grabbed my kids, and I went to the window and the smoke was filling up the house,” she said Thursday afternoon speaking from her hospital bed at Good Shepherd Medical Center, where she was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. “I put my daughter out the window first, then I got my son out,” she said, adding the flames started pouring out of the window after them. “I had to act fast because I felt like I was about to pass out.”
The three were on the landing underneath the window, still about 12 feet from the ground. “I had to let my baby girl fall first,” Ashby continued as she choked back tears. “When I saw that she was OK, I grabbed my son. I rolled off the roof the best I could without hurting him. I had to fall without landing on my daughter.” Ashby was recovering from severe smoke inhalation by Wednesday evening. “(Doctors said) I breathed in a lot of smoke. I still have a bunch of soot coming out of me,” she said. “(Sophie) is fine. A little bruised but she’s smiling and talking.”
Gunner was flown to Children’s Hospital in Dallas, where he was initially listed in critical condition. By Wednesday afternoon he had been upgraded to stable condition, said Jean Dula. Dula spoke for the family from Parkland Memorial Hospital, where 41-year-old Rene Christie was listed in critical condition. “Rene is not breathing on her own. She’s on a (ventilator). She’s not taking any breaths on her own,” Dula said. Two other people — Shawn Garrison and Rene Christie’s husband, Jonny — were at the home in the 2800 block of Tryon Road when the fire started. They were treated and released.
The Red Cross is helping assist the victims and their families. Two dogs died in the fire, with a third being treated for injuries. Fire Marshal Johnny Zackary said the home did not have working smoke alarms. Zackary said the fire started in the living room but a cause has not been determined, though he believes it began with a space heater placed too close to a couch.