Mom arrested after girl saves siblings from fire, Volusia County deputies say

Cops: Fire sparked from mom cooking hamburgers while drunk

Local 6 News at 6:00p
Local 6 News at 6:00p

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A young girl saved her family from a house fire when she called 911 and told dispatchers the fire sparked when her mother was cooking hamburgers, appearing to be drunk, according to deputies.

Deputies said Stephanie Sanford, 42, started a grease fire in the kitchen just minutes after deputies claim Sanford picked up a child from a bus stop and appeared drunk.

"Please, come help! My house is catching on fire," the child told dispatchers. "I can't see in my house. It's really smoky"

Sanford's neighbor also saw the smoke.

"It smelled like grease, grease fire, something like that," said Mike Peters.

At one point, the dispatcher tried to calm down the girl, who was crying.

"Why are you crying, baby?" the dispatcher said. "You're doing great."

The dispatcher then asked to speak with Sanford.

"Can you put (bleep) on the phone?" the dispatcher asked.

"Um, yeah, but she's drunk, so she might act a little weird," the girl replied.

Deputies said Sanford tried putting out the grease fire with cups of water and told dispatch she didn't need any help.

"Everybody is outside and safe," the caller told dispatchers.

Deputies said it was the girl who made sure everyone got out safely, including a 7-month-old baby and a family pet.

While deputies said Sanford thought the child calling 911 was stupid and the whole situation was blown way out of proportion, neighbors disagree.

"It was smart for the kid to call the police, especially when there is a grease fire like that," said Peters.

Sanford is charged with child neglect, but is no longer in jail. The children are with their father.

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