A Churchhill mother was taken to VCU Medical Center in serious condition Tuesday morning along with her one year old baby after an early morning fire. Investigators believe the fire started in a bedroom on the second floor. That's where firefighters had to break in to rescue the baby inside.
It was a chaotic scene just after 7:30 Tuesday morning when the two story row house erupted in flames.
"We didn't know what was happening," said neighbor Cassandra Brown.
She watched as authorities arrived to the North 30th street home.
"The people were evacuating us out the building," she said.
Neighbors say a mother and her young child lived there. When firefighters arrived that mother was on top of the roof - the baby, inside.
"There was one adult female on the roof attempting to jump or she needed rescuing. Firefighters very quickly were able to get some ladders to the roof," said Lt. Robbie Hagaman.
They rescued her and the 1 year old child. Both were sent to the medical center with severe burns.
In the week leading up to the fire, neighbors say they noticed what they describe as erratic behavior from the mother.
"Last night she asked us for food and we gave her food. After that, I don't know. I went to bed," Brown said.
Another neighbor - who doesn't want to be identified - says something wasn't right.
"You come outside and she's out here naked, in her drawers, playing in water. She climbed the tree, saying she was making a rainbow with the water hose," the concerned neighbor said.
"She actually felt like her house was contaminated. She was saying that all day every day," she added.
Building officials have condemned the home. Investigators say there were issues other than the fire that contributed to deeming the home unsafe. Now they hope to interview the mother and neighbors to get a better sense of how the fire started.
"You didn't see her without the baby. She had that baby on her hip every day…I hope that the baby be fine," the concerned neighbor added.
Neighbors say the mother only lived there about a year and they say that "erratic behavior" only happened occasionally.
We checked with police to see if they had to respond to the home within the past week for any incident, and they said no. This as both mother and child fight to recover from their injuries.
Richmond police say they are working closely with the fire department to determine if there is any criminal activity connected to this case.
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