Altoona Fire Inspector Tim Hughes on Tuesday credited a man who was visiting a home on Maple Avenue Sunday with saving the life of toddler who was asleep in a crib on the second floor when fire broke out Sunday.
Hughes said the 23-month-old youngster was in a crib when a portable space heater in another second floor room ignited a bed, catching the room on fire.
The owner of the home at 2609 Maple Ave., Vicky Ickes, reported that she head a "loud bang" on the second floor.
Hughes said that sharp noise likely was the explosion of an oxygen cylinder in the closet of the room on fire.
The released oxygen caused the fire to spread quickly.
Ickes, who lived in the Maple Avenue home for the past 47 years, said on Sunday that as she went to the second floor to tend to the toddler, the smoke was so thick she could not get through.
But a visitor to her home, identified as Joel Kyle, was able to fight his way through the smoke. He twice had to leap through flames to rescue the child in the crib and flee the house.
Hughes said Kyle had to battle the smoke and fire to get into the child's room and then had to overcome the same conditions as he took the child downstairs.
"That young man definitely needs to be recognized," Hughes said.
The fire affected three homes.
He said the fire destroyed the Ickes home. The city will raze it.
A home next door, at 2607, sustained some fire damage but was in "very good shape" as of Tuesday. That home housed three people.
The home on the other side of the Ickes residence, 2611 Maple, also will be rehabilitated, he said.
The 2611 address was home to Brett Robison, his wife, Ashley, and four children as well as three dogs.
Both of those homes are covered by insurance, and rehabilitation work is already being planned, said Hughes.
Damages to all three homes totaled $120,000, according to Hughes' estimates.
The fire inspector said the city's response time to the fire was quick, but he said had it not been for the effort by Kyle, the oxygen-fueled fire could have taken the life of the child.
Attempts to reach Kyle on Tuesday were not successful.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.