Friday, Nov. 6, 2009 | 12:42 p.m.
A man who is in critical condition in University Medical Center's burn unit has been unable to speak with Las Vegas Fire Department investigators examining a Wednesday apartment fire in northwestern Las Vegas in which two children were lowered to safety.
Investigators said it appears the fire was started accidentally in the kitchen on or near the stove, said Tim Szymanski, spokesman for the Las Vegas Fire Department.
Firefighters were called at 12:06 a.m. Wednesday to the Northpointe Apartments at 3333 N. Michael Way, near Rancho Drive, on reports than an apartment was on fire and that a woman and her two small children were trapped, Szymanski said.
Four people were inside the apartment at the time. Two children, ages 3 and 5, and their mother were asleep when the woman woke to screams from her husband that the apartment was on fire, Szymanski said.
The woman couldn't get out the front door of the apartment because flames from the kitchen blocked the exit. The woman lowered the two children from a second floor balcony to neighbors who were outside on the ground, then jumped herself. All three were taken to University Medical Center for minor smoke inhalation, Szymanski said.
A neighbor kicked in the front door and found the kitchen on fire. He used a fire extinguisher to knock down the flames, but they rekindled, Szymanski said. The neighbor then got another fire extinguisher.
The neighbor noticed a man on a couch in the living room who wasn't moving, Szymanski said. The neighbor pulled the man outside to the front lawn with the help of a passerby as firefighters arrived. For a third time, flames erupted and burned intensely, Szymanski said.
The neighbor was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and the man on the couch was taken to UMC with severe burns from the waist up, and critical burns from the shoulders up, Szymanski said. He remains in critical condition at UMC's burn unit. All other victims have been released from the hospital.
The fire is under investigation and fire investigators would like to talk to the man in critical condition, but he is unable to be interviewed, Szymanski said.
The fire caused about $55,000 in damage.