Grandpa Saves Himself, Leaves 3 Young Grandkids Behind in Fire (VIDEO)

A grandfather is getting tons of heat for leaving his three grandchildren behind when a fire broke out in their apartment and he fled the scene. The grandchildren, ages, 4, 5, and 8, were rescued by firemen, who also found their granddad, 66, standing totally unharmed in the lobby of the Brooklyn building. Said a neighbor: "People here want to hurt him ... They were like, 'How could you leave those kids in the house?'" Spoken like someone who's never been in a fire.

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Very likely the granddad panicked. He also may have not been able to get to the children and thought it was better to run for help than to be overcome with smoke himself and not be of use to them at all. We don't know exactly what happened in the apartment.

Willy Wilcox was reportedly found in the lobby wearing boxers and a T-shirt and told firemen he had "left the door open" for his grandchildren to escape. Well, of course, the kids would have little idea how to do that. They would most likely panic themselves and hide. (Indeed one of the children was found under a bed.)

The children's aunt has a different theory as to why Wilcox ran off, saying:

I wouldn’t be surprised if he was drunk and sleeping because I do know him to drink ... I don’t think he’s capable of taking care of kids.

It's unclear then why he would be taking care of kids -- but is that his fault? Where are the parents? Apparently the kids lived with the grandfather -- I suspect this wasn't a situation he chose. He's probably doing the best he can.

As someone who has been in a couple of fires, let me just say, unless you've been in one, you have no idea of the mindless panic that can ensue. I'm not saying the granddad did the right thing, but at almost 70 years old, he may not be thinking entirely clearly anyway. Add in a fire, and you've got someone who was probably acting on pure instinct and adrenaline.

Sure, the guy is no hero. But let's cut him a little slack. Hopefully this will alert neighbors and friends and maybe even the parents (where are they??) that this elderly man shouldn't be caring full-time for three young children.

Do you judge him? Have you been in a fire?


Image via CBS News New York

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