Heroic neighbors save children from burning apartment - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Heroic neighbors save children from burning apartment

17-year-old Alex Suchanek helped rescue the children from the fire. 17-year-old Alex Suchanek helped rescue the children from the fire.
Marine Reservist and Iraq War vet John Higgins found the children inside by following their coughing noises. Marine Reservist and Iraq War vet John Higgins found the children inside by following their coughing noises.
The 2- and 3-year old were taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in critical condition. The 2- and 3-year old were taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in critical condition.

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Marine Reservist, a 17-year old teenager and his father are being called heroes after they saved two toddlers from a burning apartment building Tuesday night.

Fire officials say the fire broke out on the second floor of the apartment complex just before 10 p.m. Tuesday, near East 8th Avenue and South Pines.

One mother of two small children, a 2- and 3-year old, was in the shower when she saw smoke coming into the bathroom. She ran to find her kids but the smoke and heat forced her out of the building.

John Higginson, an ex-marine, was across the street at his apartment when he heard a smoke alarm sound and someone screaming, "Someone call 911!" After calling 911 he ran across the street where he heard a woman screaming, "My kids are up there!"

Higginson says he ran to investigate and found 17-year old Alex Suchanek and his father already trying to get into the building.

Suchanek says he'd just finished walking his girlfriend home when he noticed a mass of black smoke outside and heard his neighbor screaming there was a fire, and that her kids were trapped inside. He and his father sprang to action.

The intense heat and smoke inside the building forced the three towards the balcony outside. The marine and the teenager started climbing.

Suchanek broke down an outer door so they could get inside. Then, with a wet towel over his face, using a cell phone as a flashlight, Higginson went into the apartment and found the children by following coughing noises.

Higginson took each child to the balcony where Suchanek was waiting to drop them down to his father below.

Crews say one of the children was not breathing after being rescued, but was resuscitated on-scene and taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center.

One of the children, a girl, is listed in serious condition. The other, a boy, is listed in satisfactory condition. Both are expected to make a full recovery.

When asked what compelled him to risk his life to save the children, Suchanek said, "I was just concerned about the kids. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do something...at least try to help the kids out."

When asked if he was comfortable being called a hero, Higginson chuckled and told reporters, "I served the last ten years in the Marine Corp Reserve. I just got back from Iraq and I still don't accept the title hero for that...I did what anybody should have done, just like Alex."

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