St. Paul firefighters rescued a 9-year-old girl from a fire in what authorities described as an "illegal" basement bedroom on Monday morning.
The fire broke out in a basement bedroom that did not have an escape window or a smoke alarm inside a house located at 343 Maple Street.
"I woke up and it was just engulfed in flames," Trinity Sellers, mother of the rescued girl, told Fox 9 News. "I was just like, quickly had to run out, you know?"
Sellers explained that she had been staying in the basement of her parent's home, but her daughter normally sleeps upstairs. Since there was no school on Monday, Trinity Sellers made an exception.
"We just told her, 'Okay, you can stay down here with us," she recalled. "It just breaks my heart that she was down there."
Nevaeh Sellers, 9, was taken to Regions Hospital after she was rescued. She is currently listed in critical condition, but is expected to make a full recovery.
In all, a total of seven people -- including 3 children -- escaped from the upper levels, but the windows in the basement are too high and too small to escape from.
"It was a heck of a rescue by firefighters to recover her so quickly that she survived this fire," St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said.
Firefighters eventually found the girl crawling on all fours toward a window where her mother was calling for her. Zaccard said basement bedrooms in newer homes are required to have an egress window.
"You need to have two ways out," he explained.
The official cause of the fire has not been released; however, firefighters say no one should have been sleeping in the basement of the Dayton's Bluff home. For one thing, there were no smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors in the home as required by law in Minnesota, Zaccard said.
Trinity Sellers admitted that being in the unfinished basement wasn't ideal, referring to it as a place she occasionally stays as a last resort.
"It is what it is," she said. "You've got to find somewhere to stay."
Except for a charred night stand and the springs in the mattress, little remains of the make-shift sleeping quarters.
"Here's where the fire started," friend Ashley Weller demonstrated. "Because he had blankets hanging up like a curtain -- so, this blanket right here is what ignited."
Those inside the home tell Fox 9 News a candle or cigarette likely caused the fire.