SEFFNER -- A nine-year-old boy is recovering from second-degree burns and smoke inhalation after Hillsborough deputies rescued him from a burning home Thursday night.
Deputies with the Hillsborough sheriff's office found the home on Joe Ebert Road fully engulfed in flames. The child's mother and neighbors were among those yelling that a child was still inside.
Deputies Kevin Reich and Alexander Maldonado broke out a glass window and shouted inside, telling the boy named Owen to follow the light from their flashlights and get near the window. They grabbed Owen and pulled him to safety, then stayed with him until paramedics arrived to treat him. He's hospitalized at Tampa General, which has a burn unit. Owen's mother, Karen McGuinness, says he has second-degree burns on his face and arm, and is being treated for the potentially toxic fumes he inhaled inside the house.
The rescue took place in about three minutes, Sheriff Chad Chronister told reporters Friday morning. "Those three minutes... almost caused this young boy to perish. I couldn't be more proud of the quick actions (of these deputies)... they never gave up. This child is here today because of their heroic actions."
McGuinness praised Maldonado and Reich outside Tampa General Friday afternoon, saying "had they not done what they did, we'd be having a very different conversation right now." McGuinness said she tried unsuccessfully to break the window before deputies arrived, and heard Owen saying 'mommy, mommy.' McGuinness said she prayed as deputies went to work, and said "thank you Jesus" when she heard her son was safe. McGuinness can be heard on bodycam video saying "he's breathing, he's breathing!" as deputies carried her son out into the open.
Hillsborough Fire Rescue says the owner of the home was using his outdoor fire pit earlier in the evening, went inside and fell asleep. The glow of the flames awakened him, and he saw that the wooden deck and garage were on fire. He tried to put it out with a garden hose before calling 911, but it didn't work, and in the meantime the fire spread to the house. The investigation is still underway. The house is a total loss. Plans for an account to help the family are pending.
Photo: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
See bodycam video of the rescue below.