By Fox 8 News Reporter Autumn Ziemba
CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio -- An apartment fire led to the discovery of three young children, left home alone.
It didn't take long for flames to ravage the apartment in Honey Locust Gardens on Prange Drive early Friday morning.
Just before five in the morning, neighbor Stephanie Koons heard the screams.
"I went out to the parking lot and there were flames coming out one of the bedroom windows, going up toward the apartment above it," Koons said.
Smoke from the fire quickly spread to adjoining apartments, and as Cuyahoga Falls firefighters were knocking on doors, they made a shocking discovery.
Police say three girls, ages 5 and 6, were alone and asleep as smoke filled their home.
"Obviously, if the fire department didn't do a great job and go check the neighboring apartments, we could have had a real tragedy here with those three kids. Because apparently, they were asleep on the bed and the apartment was filling up with smoke," explained Cuyahoga Falls Police Sgt. Gary Merton.
A neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, tells Fox 8 the children sat in his truck until EMS arrived.
"They're very lucky, because honestly, I didn't know nobody was in the house. By the grace of God, somebody went in there and knocked on the door," the man said. "[The mother] should be penalized for it to be honest, because they are 5 year olds. They didn't know what to do. Anything could have happened. And it wouldn't have been, she's just going to prison--she would have been going to her kids' funerals."
Police have charged the mother, 27-year-old Morgan Maffett, with three counts of misdemeanor child endangering.
They say Maffett told them she was working at the time of the fire.
"She, I guess, said that she only left them for a short time, but we know she was gone for at least two and half hours," Sgt. Merton explained.
Neighbors are now left in disbelief, demanding more for those who cannot protect themselves.
"I think it's really sad that no one was there to make sure they were safe," said Koons.
A man who was in the apartment that caught fire also suffered burns.
The girls were admitted to Akron Children's Hospital for observation. Summit County Children Services says they will be released into the custody of other family members while Maffett is investigated.
Maffett turned herself in and was arraigned in Stow Municipal Court Friday afternoon. She was released on a $5,000 signature bond. She has no prior record involving child endangering.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.