Their stomachs were tied up in knots. Most jaws dropped and eyeballs popped at the unfolding scenario. Some could barely watch. The crazy woman had signed her death wish by running back into the burning building. It was only a matter of time before the beams gave way and the whole structure descended on her. Everyone was on edge.
The moment she was back inside the building she knew she had made a fatal mistake. Smoke obscured her view and parts of the roof were falling and crashing all around her. She could barely make out the layout of the house and a sudden surge of helplessness overwhelmed her. Coughing and fumbling around, she fell to her knees in despair. Drifting in and out of consciousness, she resigned herself to her fate.
The weak cry of her daughter woke her. Infused by new strength she crawled to the source of the sound. Her knees trod on burning embers and debris but the pain was numb to her. Inch by inch she moved to the ever weakening cry. Knees scrapped, hands bleeding and eyes teary, every motion forward was progress.
Outside, tension had reached fever pitch. There were gasps when sections of the roof begun to cave in and women were now wailing. The fire fighters who had arrived could only watch. It was too dangerous to move in. The building was about to come down.
Finally she reached her baby. Her cot had been covered by a large piece of the ceiling which had protected her. Summoning every ounce of reserve energy left she pulled her daughter free. There were loud thuds as the house continued to disintegrate. Clutching her daughter tightly she made for the door, using the screams outside as her radar. Finally she was outside and collapsed a few metres away from the house.