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Couple with newborn recalls experience in Streator fire

Haley Collins enjoyed her Mother’s Day with her newborn in her arms Sunday, one day after a traumatizing fire threatened her family.

Collins was asleep in her apartment at 404 Richards St., Streator, early Saturday morning when Lola, her pit bull and boxer mix, was barking at the door.

Her boyfriend, Bruce Scott, was the first to hear the barking, and upon opening the door was shocked by a large fire blocking their only entrance to the building.

He woke Collins, who quickly dialed 911 while she considered what to do about their 3-week-old baby, Raelynn, and Lola’s 13 puppies that were born Friday.

“By the time I broke out the back window, police were already there,” Collins said of their quick response time.

Police advised the couple should attempt to drop Raelynn out of the second-story window, roughly 13 feet above the ground.

“It was very hectic,” she recalled. “I just wanted to make sure my baby got out before anything.”

Scott took it upon himself to attempt to make the drop as carefully as possible. Raelynn was bundled tightly in a blanket, with great care given to ensuring her neck was in a safe position before Scott began to climb out of the window.

Collins remembered crying in fear as Scott hooked one leg on the inside of the window and leaned down toward police.

“He literally dangled his body out the window as far as he could,” she said.

Once he had lowered himself as far as possible, he was able to lightly toss Raelynn to Police Sgt. Robert Wood below, who made the catch with officers Chris Osborn and Drew Fritts assisting.

The infant was seen by medical personnel, and Scott followed by leaping out of the building.

Collins was hesitant to follow.

“At first, honestly, I was really scared, but I looked back (at the fire) and knew I had to jump out,” she said.

She received a bruised lip from the fall but was otherwise unhurt. Streator firefighters were able to enter the home once the fire was under control and took out the crate filled with puppies, who were unharmed. They were reunited with Lola, who rushed through the flames early on and was awaiting the family in the driveway.

The couple lost many possessions in the fire but were relieved to be relatively safe, given the circumstances. They’ve relocated to a new apartment in the same complex.

And what was lost is slowly being rebuilt through the help of strangers.

“The whole community came together to help me with all sorts of things,” Collins said.

She has since received offerings clothes for both the couple and infant as well as a crib.

All in all, she gathers what is most important is that everyone is safe.

“It was a very scary experience and something that still runs through my head. I’m doing a little bit better now, just taking it day by day,” she said. “I’m just grateful that everyone is OK in the building. (First responders) did an amazing job.”

Those looking to make donations to the family can contact Collins at 815-992-3075.

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