September 26, 2023



ST. PAUL, Minn. – Three-year-old Fred Stewart, Jr. has a violent cough, something doctors say is due to smoke inhalation.

Both Stewart and his father, Fred Stewart, Sr., were rescued from a burning apartment in St. Paul on Friday.

“I was scared,” the three-year-old said while coloring in a Regions Hospital waiting room.

Firefighters used thermal imaging to pull the two from the burning unit. Turns out, paramedics participating in an ongoing training program were in the neighborhood on another call.

That program is made up of more than 1,400 first responders and paramedics in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Dr. Bjorn Peterson, assistant medical director at Regions Hospital, said when he heard the victims were trapped inside of the building he knew timing was critical. Peterson and the resident he was training that day showed up before the dispatched ambulance. Peterson was able to give medical attention right away.

“Thirty to 60-second delays, a couple of minutes or seconds, who knows, the smoke inhalation can over take a person quickly,” he said. “I could only guess what the outcome would’ve been had there been a slight delay.”

Trawanda Harris said she feared the worst when she arrived at the complex. She said she is thankful for the technology that helped firefighters locate her little brother and his father. Both suffered from smoke inhalation. Friday night, Fred Stewart, Sr. was listed in critical condition and could not breathe on his own.

“I love my little brother a lot. I am happy that he is alive and safe and doing good,” she said.

Firefighters say a space heater is to blame for the blaze.

“I don’t think we will ever use another one again,” Harris said. “My step dad gets colder because of his medical conditions. So, maybe that is why the heater got plugged up because he was cold.”

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