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Apple Valley mom speaks out about house fire that killed baby

May 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Apple Valley mother shared her heartbreaking story for the first time since a fire broke out in her home last week, killing her 11-month-old son. In an exclusive interview, she described the desperate attempt to save her baby boy and the neighbor who put out the flames.

Alicia Burelson cannot wake up from the nightmare she is living. All she sees when she shuts her eyes is her 11-month-old baby struggling to survive burns to 70 percent of his body.

Last Friday, she and her boyfriend said they awoke to find his room on fire.

"He opened the door and you couldn't see anything except for just the darkest, blackest big cloud of smoke," said Burelson.

With her mother at her side, Burelson recalled how just the night before her son, Bradley Dingham, had hit a milestone by taking his first steps. But his life was cut short by a fire that ignited in the crib where he slept.

Arson and bomb investigators were looking into the unexplained cause.

"They just said that it had nothing to do with a wall heater or an outlet or anything," said Burelson.

Only one wall alongside the crib showed the tell-tale signs of a fire. The rest of the room was untouched; clothing and toys remained where they were left.

Burelson recalled how she tried to fight her way inside as flames and smoke consumed the room.

"[I] tried to go in and I didn't so he went back in and threw more, he threw the rest of the water on to the crib and came back out," she said.

Each attempt to get Bradley was met with defeat as the two tried to battle fire and acrid smoke. Finally, a neighbor rushed in with a fire extinguisher.

"I just closed my eyes and took another breath, which wasn't helping, and I ran threw and when I got to the crib I opened my eyes and he was lying in the corner of the bed just on his back," said Burelson.

She said she took her son out of the crib and rushed him to an area hospital. He died while being airlifted to a Northern California children's burn unit, just a week and a half short of his first birthday.

A funeral for the 11-month-old baby was scheduled for June 5.

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