Mom says kids' quick decision saved their lives during apartment fire

A mother who lost everything in an apartment fire is praising her two children, saying they both made a split second decision that saved their lives.

Valencia Lanquedoc said her two children had jumped down a flight of stairs during the apartment fire Sunday night at the Polo Club apartment complex.

"I couldn't stand there and watch it because it seemed surreal... I was still thinking in my mind it could have been a lot worse especially after seeing my kids have to dive down a set of burning stairs. I couldn't even think," Lanquedoc said.

DeKalb County Fire posted a video on its Facebook page showing the intensity of the flames.

It was close call for one firefighter who fell through through the floor and sprained his ankle.

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The firefighter is among several people now recovering.

Lanquedoc said she got there minutes before firefighters arrived. She told Channel 2's Michael Seiden she watched in horror as her loved ones ran down a burning staircase.

"(They were) jumping down the stairs for their lives with my baby boy just screaming that, 'It hurts!'" Lanquedoc said.

After spending the night at Grady Hospital, her son Jeff is breathing again on his own. Her daughter Alexia is also feeling better. She suffered minor burns.


Lanquedoc's family was one of 18 who lost everything they owned.

Four other residents suffered minor injuries. 

Shannon Fikes jumped from the second-floor balcony of her apartment unit when flames kept her from running out the front door.

“I just had to get out of there. I just lost everything,” Fikes said. “I just thank God that we have our life.”

The Red Cross is providing food, clothes and temporary shelter for the affected families. A GoFundMe has also been set up for the Fikes. 

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