Springfield fire victim jumps from balcony to escape the flames

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 7:24 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 10:33 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield apartment resident made a life or death decision during an apartment fire.

At 3 a.m. on July 14, a fire broke out in the Viking complex at Luster and Sunshine. As the apartment complex was going up in smoke, one tenant was faced with a decision, stay in the building and face the flames or jump from the balcony. Max Hampshire says they just wanted to live.

“I felt really warm, and I smelled something,” said Viking Apartments resident Max Hampshire.

Hampshire walked onto the balcony to see what was going on and found flames racing up the stairs.

“I ran into my sibling’s room screaming that there was a fire,” said Hampshire.

Hampshire needed to grab a few medical supplies before evacuating. The stairway was engulfed in flames in the seconds it took to grab an inhaler and medications. It was too late to escape.

“The smoke was so thick I couldn’t find the stairs,” said Hampshire.

Max called 911 to get help and ran onto the balcony. The smoke made it difficult to breathe.

“Right next to me, the flames were thrashing, they were crackling, they were like reaching for me, and I was screaming for my life,” said Hampshire. “I was terrified because the fire was getting closer. At that point, I realized that the only way I was going to live in any capacity was to jump.”

That’s when Max leaped from the balcony, becoming unconscious and breaking multiple bones.

“I genuinely thought I had passed away, and seconds after I jumped, the balcony was engulfed in flames,” said Hampshire.

A couple of neighbors came to the rescue until emergency responders arrived.

“She sat criss-cross with my head in her lap, wiping away my tears and brushing my hair out of my face saying it was going to be ok and I was going to live,” said Hampshire. “They were angels in that situation. I would have been alone if it wasn’t for them.”

Hampshire has been in the hospital since the fire and expects to be there another two weeks. Max will spend the next two months in a wheelchair but says ultimately is happy to be alive.

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