ELKHART — Tamra Lancaster had a split second to make a difficult decision as a fire rapidly consumed her house early Thursday.
She was holding her 2-month-old daughter out of a second story window that the baby's father, Antwaun Gray, had just jumped out. Lancaster dropped the child to her father's waiting arms below, then jumped out of the window herself.
"I was scared to death of losing my family, and I just acted," Lancaster told our news partners at ABC57.
The couple suffered foot and leg injuries jumping from the second story window, but the baby is OK and they are glad their injuries aren't any worse.
Gray and Lancaster awoke around 3:25 a.m. to the smell of smoke filling their house at 1018 S. 3rd St. A fire had ignited in their attached garage, which quickly consumed the garage and began spreading into the house.
The couple's escape routes downstairs were blocked by smoke and heat, leaving them no other choice but to jump out of the window.
“We’re screaming for help at this time," Gray told ABC57. "We’re on the roof, you know. Help! Help! We have kids inside. Help!”
The Elkhart Fire Department arrived on the scene to find the garage engulfed in flames with fire breaching the side wall of the house. Everyone had escaped the house before fire crews arrived, according to a press release.
The fire department knocked down the fire in about 30 minutes. By then, the house and all of its contents were completely destroyed. The press release does not incidate whether the family has insurance.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday.
Gray's family is no stranger to tragedy. He told ABC57 that his aunt died in a fire decades ago at the same address, so he knows Thursday morning's fire could have ended much worse.
“Anything else that was in the house can be replaced. We can’t be,” Gray said. “Whats next for me and my family? Achieving everything that we ever wanted to achieve.”
The family is staying with relatives for now while they decide how to move forward.