Thursday, May 29, 1980 | 2 a.m.
Three Las Vegas youths came to the rescue of two small children Wednesday after a gasoline explosion, touched off by a water heater igniting fumes from a gas can, engulfed a garage in flames.
The rescuers were identified as Wayne Sly, 14; 16-year-old Scott Harmon and John Blading, 15, whose broken leg was set in a cast at the time of the blaze.
Four-year-old Daniel Huddelson was reported in critical condition in the Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital burn unit with third-degree burns over 85 percent of his body. David Watkins, who sustained third-degree burns on his lower legs, was reported in stable condition, officials said.
The daring rescue occurred at about 11 a.m. Wednesday after the three teenagers heard woman screaming from the front yard of a home at 316 Hinkle St., one of the rescuers told the SUN.
"We were walking down the street when we heard her screaming," 14-year-old Sly said. "When we looked over we could see smoke pouring out of the garage."
After running over to the hysterical woman, the youths learned there was a child trapped in the flaming building. They later learned that 2-year-old David, who had also been in the structure when the fire broke out, had managed to escape moments before they arrived.
"The littler kid had managed to get out before we got there," Sly said, "but because there was a car in the way, the other kid was trapped."
The three teen-agers opened the front doors on the garage but because of the enormous amount of heavy smoke were unable to see inside.
Harmon ran to get a garden hose as 15-year-old Balding attempted to enter the garage to rescue the child trapped in the blazing garage. Because of the smoke and heat, however, Balding was forced to retreat.
Sly said the garden hose was too short to reach the flames and was ineffective in fighting the fire.
"The car was in the way, and we couldn't see anything," Sly said. "We could hear the little kid crying, but we couldn't see him.
"John told Scott to soak him down," Sly said, "and then John went in and got the kid. He dragged him out by his arm."
Immediately after 4-year-old Daniel was pulled from the burning building, three Las Vegas ire Department units and two paramedic units arrived on the scene - just five minutes after the original call came in.
Mrs. Theodore Tsetsakis, a neighbor who lives near the residence, said the children were under the care of a babysitter, who reportedly was in the house when the fire started.
"They really took charge, which was good," said Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman David Washington. "If they had not been on the scene, I'm sure it would have been much worse."