LAWRENCE (CBS) – A Lawrence woman and her mother suffered serious burns when fire erupted inside a Park Street duplex overnight.
The fire trapped the women before they made it out.
Residents say they heard an explosion then intense smoke coming from the basement.
In the rightside unit, 21-year-old Akisha Mercado, her 45-year-old mother, Marilyn Santos, and three-year-old son, Caden, were surrounded by a wall of flames.
Akisha reached her family from the hospital on Facetime, revealing the severe injuries to her face, along with the frantic effort to save her son.
She told her stepmother, Maria Lopez, that she tried to protect her son and that she was hugging her son.
“That’s all she cared about,” Lopez said.
By the time firefighters arrived, the three had escaped the inferno and family members detailed what they endured.
“Her mother’s hair went on flames first,” said Akisha’s cousin, Crystal Vazquez.
“She tried to help her mother, but while doing that she had a long sleeve and it caught fire. It burned her arm and went up to her face,” she said.
A small gas leak was detected near the home, but it’s not yet clear if that contributed to the fire or an explosion heard by residents.
In the leftside unit, 54-year-old Maritza Torres was watching television and said she heard a “boom”.
“I told my daughter, my boyfriend get down fire, fire everybody out,” Torres said.
Torres said she didn’t see the flames immediately and thought it was an earthquake.
Akisha Mercado’s father, Vincete, says their escape from the inferno was nothing short of a miracle.
“I couldn’t believe it until I saw her. I had to see her first to know she’s still alive,” he said.
They are survivors with a long and difficult road to recovery.