Fire officials issue warning after rescue attempt caught on camera

Cell phone video of a fatal fire has sparked a warning from first responders.

Posted: Mar 7, 2019 1:16 PM
Updated: Mar 8, 2019 5:10 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Cell phone video of a fatal fire has sparked a warning from first responders.

The viewer submitted video shows multiple people trying to save a woman trapped inside a West Lafayette mobile home.

Fire officials told News 18 the good intentions made the situation even worse.

Windows can be heard shattering as people make a desperate attempt to save a woman trapped inside a burning mobile home Wednesday morning. Tragically, Margaret Woods could not be saved.

While the effort to save the 19-year-old was heroic, Wabash Township Deputy Fire Chief Jim Lewis said it caused more problems.

"In actuality, what they did was fed the fire," he explained.

Lewis said breaking the windows allowed more oxygen to reach the fire, and he says the video shows what will happen.

"It had no flames showing when it first started, other than a little glow," he said. "Then, when they broke the windows, there were flames coming out of the windows within two minutes."

Lewis said the flames made it difficult for firefighters to get in the home.

I'm not saying that the woman would have survived, but there was really no chance for survival after that happened," Lewis added.

He said a rescue effort is only suggested if the person can be easily reached.

"If you cannot actually see the person, and you can't get to them, it's best to leave everything alone," Lewis explained.

While any rescue is dangerous, Lewis said it's best to leave it up to the professionals because you risk becoming a victim.

He said sometimes the hardest thing to do, may be for the best for everyone.

"When you do what they did, there's just no control," said Lewis. "I understand their intentions and their intentions were very well, but well intentions sometimes just don't turn out right."

The state fire marshal is still trying to figure out what started Wednesday's fire. As we previously reported, investigators believe multiple space heaters were being used at the time of the fire, and they don't suspect any criminal activity at this time.

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