FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno man recounts the terrifying moments before he helped save three children from an apartment fire. The fire started just before noon Sunday near Church and Fig in Southwest Fresno.
The three toddlers, who are 1, 3 and 4 years old, are all in critical condition -- mostly from smoke inhalation. One neighbor told Action News about the chaotic moments before firefighters pulled the young children out of the smoke-filled apartment and what the mother was doing while it happened.
Charred toys and bits of insulation remained scattered outside an apartment that's now the center of a serious investigation.
"When fire made entry they found the three children unconscious," said Lt. Jeff Motoyasu of the Fresno Police Department.
Fresno police say three young children were left unattended, when a likely electrical fire broke out in the apartment. Detectives don't know where the mother was when the fire started, and she's currently being investigated.
"If we file charges it may be something of a higher crime than just neglect, we don't know. Again, we have to determine all the facts," said Motoyasu.
But according to a neighbor who ran outside when he heard sirens, the mother was somewhere outside the apartment screaming for her children when firefighters arrived.
"I heard 'my babies, my babies.' It was all going on too fast, so I just broke the window and smoke came out," the 22-year-old man, who didn't want to be identified, told Action News.
The man said he broke windows to get the smoke out of the apartment as firefighters were preparing to head inside.
"Right before I hit the window I heard one scream and glass shattered," he said.
The witness says the apartment was so smoky he couldn't see, but the children were dizzy and drooling black spit as first responders worked on their tiny bodies.
Child Protective Services has custody of the children until investigators decide if the mother was at fault in this case.
Fresno man says he helped save 3 toddlers from apartment fire