UPDATE: Parents of 2-year-old injured in apartment fire, speak on son’s condition

Chief Whiteley says the 2 adults and one child were inside the apartment at the time

UPDATE: (5 P.M. MARCH 18TH, 2022)

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – A 2-year-old boy is left in critical condition after an overnight fire at an apartment in Winchester.

“I thought I was going to lose my child” said Erin Saunders.

A grateful but concerned mother as her two-year-old boy fights in the hospital after being critically injured in the early Friday morning fire, which destroyed the family’s apartment.

“I woke him up and told him that something was burning and I open my bedroom door and we saw nothing but black smoke everywhere and we seen flames in the living and I yelled at him and told him to grab our son and get out” said Saunders.

Erin Saunders and Dakota Smith say in the rush to get out…there was confusion as to who had grabbed 2-year-old Aiden, who also goes by A.J.

Smith says he thought Saunders had yelled that she was grabbing him, but quickly realized he had been left behind.

“He ran back upstairs and tried to run inside but there was just too much smoke and he couldn’t” added Saunders.

A terrifying, helpless feeling, that’s when firefighters risked their own lives to save the toddler, carrying him out of the burning apartment.

“When I saw him I was running after the firefighter asking how he was, because when he came out he wasn’t moving or anything…he was non-responsive” said Saunders and Smith.

Winchester Fire Chief Chris Whiteley says the call came in around 5 a.m. for a child trapped in an apartment.

Chief Whiteley says when firefighters arrived on Oxford Drive, smoke was coming from the building.

“Initial engine did an aggressive primary search through the room of origin to find the infant, they brought that child out and met with the crew that was bringing a line up to extinguish and contain the fire.”

The child was taken to UK hospital for smoke-related injuries. Chief Whiteley praised the crew for its quick recovery.

“Number one, it’s a testament to leadership and the art of fireman-ship what these guys did going through the room of origin, doing a primary search for the victim. They protected that child with their own bodies and gear to get them to safety, they trusted their team the second and engine to bring the hand line to extinguish” said Chief Whiteley.

Smith and Saunders are by their son’s side at the hospital, they say Aiden is still in critical condition and on a ventilator, they are just praying for his recovery.

They say they couldn’t be more thankful to the firefighters who saved their son.

“If it wasn’t for them then our son wouldn’t have made it…he’d be dead” said Saunders and Smith.

Chief Whiteley says the fire began in the family room which has significant fire and smoke damage, forcing the family to find somewhere else to stay.  The Red Cross is helping with that.

A firefighter was treated for minor smoke inhalation, but the Chief says he is doing fine.

Chief Whiteley says the cause of the fire is still under investigation but that it does not appear to be arson.

Smith has created a GoFundMe to help them get back on their feet you can find a link to that here.


WINCHESTER, Ky. (ORIGINAL STORY, MARCH 18TH, 2022) (WTVQ) – A 2-year-old child is in critical but stable condition following an overnight apartment fire at the Grandview Apartments in Winchester, according to the Winchester Fire Department.

Fire Chief, Chris Whiteley, says the call came in around 5 a.m with reports of a child trapped in the apartment at 225 Oxford Drive, apartment 56.

When crews arrived there was smoke visible from the building. Crews did an aggressive search to find the child, and once the child was found, the child was taken to UK Hospital for smoke related injuries. The child is in critical but stable condition.

No deaths were reported.

Chief Whiteley says the 2 adults were also inside the apartment at the time. Chief Whiteley says there was confusion between the mom and dad on who had the child in their possession, before realizing neither had the child and that the child was still in the apartment.

Chief Whiteley says crews protected the child to get the child to safety and says its a testament to leadership and the art of fireman-ship.

Chief Whiteley says the family room is the room where the fire started and it has significant fire and smoke damage.

He says damage was contained to that one apartment, that there is small smoke damage to the hallway and may be small smoke damage to surrounding apartments in the building.

A firefighter was injured in the fire and was treated and released. Chief Whiteley says the firefighter is doing well.

The family of 3 has been displaced due to the damage. The Red Cross has been notified.

Chief Whiteley says the cause of the fire is under investigation but it does not appear to be arson.

The Clark County Fire Department also responded to the scene.

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