Fort Worth

Family of 8 Hospitalized, Pulled From Burning Home in Parker County Overnight

Father, two children flown to Parkland for burns, smoke inhalation; four other children, mom hospitalized as well

Eight people from one family were hospitalized Thursday, some with critical injuries, following a devastating fire overnight in Parker County.

County officials said a fire broke out inside the Leonard family's home on the 200 block of Kalinga Drive near Springtown at about 3 a.m.

Family members tell NBC5 the parents woke up in the middle of night to find thick smoke throughout the house. They did have smoke detectors but say nobody heard them go off, perhaps because the flames moved so quickly.

Sarah Leonard ran to wake the family's six children who were home at the time but the fire blocked them from making it out the door. So her husband Jeff Leonard, a former firefighter, gathered them all into a back bedroom, closed the door and broke a window to send the oldest kids to a neighbor's house for help.

NBC5 spoke with Jeff's oldest daughter, Maia Leonard, on Friday. The 20-year-old was not in the house when the fire broke out.

"He's always been like a superhero for everybody," Maia Leonard said of her father. "He's always taken care of everything and if you ever needed help, he'd be there in like five seconds. It's just so hard to see somebody vulnerable that you've always looked at as literally Superman."

Sarah Leonard's sister, Rachel Riley, also spoke with NBC5, adding, "We are forever grateful for the people, neighbors and everybody that came rushing over and helped everybody out."

A family of eight is hospitalized, some with critical injuries, following a devastating fire overnight Thursday in Parker County.

One of those neighbors was Roxy Works.

"I was really just praying everyone came out alive," said Works, who broke another window while her husband helped pull people out of the burning home. "I believe that god put everybody where they needed to be to keep this family together for the holidays."

Neighbors and deputies with the Parker County Sheriff's Office were the first to arrive to help, pulling two children, ages 2 and 4, and their parents, who had both passed out, out of a bedroom window.

"He jumped out of bed and ran out the door. Just bolted. Didn't even put shoes on. Nothing," said Jennifer Judd, whose husband, Eric, helped rescue his neighbors as well. "Super hero. Be telling my little boy that today his daddy's a super hero."

Stephen Watson, fire chief with Parker County Emergency Services, said as firefighters arrived, they reported the single-story home engulfed in flames with fire shooting through the roof.

Parker County Sheriff's Department
Body camera video shows firefighters and sheriff's deputies rescue a family trapped by fire in Parker County, Nov. 29, 2018.

Watson said the home was burning down around the family and that they were not able to exit through either the front or back doors.

Body cam video from one of the deputies first to arrive showed the dramatic rescue footage as child after child was pulled from the burning home. The disturbing video, which NBC5 decided not to release unedited, shows the children and their parents, apparently unconscious, receiving treatment from EMS responders before being hospitalized.

Officials said two of the children, ages 2 and 4, and their father, were critically injured and were flown by air ambulance to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas for burns and smoke inhalation.

Parker County Emergency Services
Parker County firefighters respond to a fire at a home that left eight people hospitalized, Nov. 29, 2018.

The other four children, an infant and three others ages 11, 12 and 13, were all taken to Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth for smoke inhalation.

The mother of the children was taken to Medical City Plano for smoke inhalation.

A relative told NBC5 Thursday night that the three oldest kids had all been released from the hospital. Their parents and three youngest siblings are still hospitalized but are stable for now.

The relative said they have cuts and scratches and a few have minor burns but the most serious injuries are from smoke inhalation.

Jeff Leonard and the family's four-year-old son have injuries that are still considered critical, from inhaling so much smoke.

The Tarrant County Arson Task Force is investigating the fire.

"So we're here en mass and we're hopefully going to find out what started it," explained Parker County Fire Marshal Kurt Harris, who said they were there, not because it was suspected arson, but because so many people were trapped inside, including 6 children. "There's still that small little area in the back of your mind that keeps reminding you that there are kids, and not to give up and to continue to look."

Officials said the home is a total loss.

Neighbors have begun collecting donations of clothing and other essentials like toiletries.

"We wanted to do something to help and we know they were all taken to the hospitals and some of them are in pretty severe condition," said neighbor Chelsea Ellis.

Her children play with the Leonard kids and she and her husband have opened their home as a donation center for the family.

"For such a loving family and hardworking family, it's hard as a neighbor to see them go through it and they haven't even really begun to go through it yet, there's still a lot to come," said Billy Ellis.

Online: Chelsea Ellis also started a GoFundMe page for the Leonard family with the hope of raising $100,000. The family did not have insurance and will need help finding a new place to live. That page can be found here.

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