Early morning C.R. fire a close call for many families

Katilyn Duron with her youngest daughter Olivia.  Her family of four escaped an apartment fire...
Katilyn Duron with her youngest daughter Olivia. Her family of four escaped an apartment fire by jumping out a 2nd floor window on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: May. 10, 2018 at 4:31 PM CDT
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Cedar Rapids fire investigators are searching for someone who set a small apartment complex on fire early Thursday morning endangering as many as 13 people inside.

The fire at 126 Harbet Avenue N.W. started around 3:45 a.m. Thursday morning.

Investigators determined the fire was set in the hallway blocking the normal exits and forcing a number of people to either jump from windows or climb out ladders with the help of firefighters to escape.

Fire officials say one woman living on the third floor of the complex dropped her one-month-old baby out the window to a man waiting below. The infant was not hurt. At least eight people went to the hospital—mostly as a precaution.

But fire officials say one person may have suffered a broken leg.

Katilyn Duron said she awoke to her youngest daughter’s cries, saw smoke in the living room and when her husband opened the door, they found a hallway engulfed in flames.

“I jumped out of the window and told him to throw the babies out. So I caught them and ran away as far as I could from that place because I didn’t know if it would blow up or anything,” she said

Another woman, Jeanine Barakafitiye, surveying the damage late Thursday morning, said she was at work when the fire broke out and got a frantic call.

Her one-year-old son Jayden was in a third floor apartment being watched by her brother Antonio Mendez.

Barakafitiye says her brother jumped out a window with the toddler and protected him in the fall. She only knew her son was OK when her brother’s phone was answered at the hospital.

“When they answered it wasn’t Antonio. It was the nurse and she said your son is at the hospital and he’s OK,” she said.

Investigators won’t say exactly how someone started the fire or where it was set in the hallway because that’s part of the investigation.

But catching the person who put 13 lives in danger is a priority.