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Motherly instincts. (The Goodness of America).

Shortly before 3 p.m. on March 8th, a fire broke out in the first-floor dining room of a duplex in Salt Lake City, Utah. Three children, all under age six, and their mother were home at the time, but did not notice the fire for several minutes. By then the flames had spread, trapping all four on the second floor.

Across the street, off-duty Salt Lake City Police Detective Ken Sanders was feeding her 11-month-old son and chatting with her mother on the front porch of her home when she noticed smoke pouring from the duplex. She handed her son to her mother, called 911, then ran to the burning home and pounded on the front door. When there was no response, she ran to the back of the building where she heard the mother and children screaming for help from the second floor balcony.

With fire blocking the front entrance, and black smoke enveloping the inside stairway, Sanders ran back to her own home, grabbed a ladder, and began dragging it across the street. A neighbor heard the commotion and ran to help her carry the ladder. Once the ladder was in place, Sanders climbed it three times to carry each child to safety. The mother then climbed down herself.

Firefighters arrived at about the time the first child was rescued. With Detective Sanders in control of the rescue effort, they were able to concentrate on dousing the fire, confining it to the first floor and preventing it from spreading to the adjoining unit.

The names of the persons Sanders saved were not released. The rescued family was relocated by the American Red Cross. Sanders told the Salt Lake Tribune that since flames engulfed the living room when she peered in, family possessions were likely a "total loss' But thanks to the detective's adroit response to the crisis, the mother and children suffered only minor smoke inhalation. Salt Lake City's Deseret News quoted Sanders as saying the children felt better after she invited them to her home, where they "cleaned me out of Popsicles."

Exactly one month after the fire, on April 8th, Detective Sanders was honored for her heroics as Utah Officer of the Year by the Utah chapter of the International Footprinters Association, a law enforcement support group that promotes fellowship, respect, and cooperation between members of law enforcement and their communities. Her name will be submitted for consideration as the IFA's national Officer of the Year.

"I felt a little shy about getting it," she said of the award. "I know that everybody in that room would have done the same thing." Recalling that someone had asked if her reaction to the emergency was due to her role as a mother or that of a police officer, she unequivocally asserted, "It was 100 percent mom. I just saw that children were involved, and that was that." "It was," she said, "one mother trying to help another mother out. It's just coincidental I'm also a cop."
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Title Annotation:Salt Lake City Police Detective Ken Sanders saves mother and children from fire
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:May 19, 2003
Words:500
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