CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. - A D.C. elementary school teacher is fighting for her life after her Capitol Heights home caught fire last week.
Family says Cheryl Morning was so badly burned she was not expected to survive, but she has continued to defy the odds.
“She has over 75 percent burns from head to toe, first- and second-degree,” said her brother Jonathan Streat. “They only gave us a 1 percent chance that she would make it.”
Streat is a captain with D.C. Fire and EMS, and said he was in church two Sundays ago when he started getting calls from fellow firefighters.
He said the lint trap on the dryer ignited as Morning was doing laundry in the basement.
“My sister was in this room right here coming up from the basement yelling, ‘I’m on fire, I’m on fire!’” Streat said.
He said Morning was able to warn her mother, who escaped through the front door of the house, but Morning struggled to get out through a side door that had locked security bars she was unable to open.
She ended up being rescued through another door, but was badly burned.
“When I first saw her the first day, I couldn’t believe that was her,” said her brother, Brandon Williams Senior. “It was just heartbreaking to walk in the room and see my sister like that.”
Morning remains in a medically-induced coma, but is improving.
“She was not expected to make it through Day 1, but it’s Day 8,” said Streat.
Her students at Janney Elementary School in Washington D.C. made signs for her classroom, and according to an email to parents from the principal, the “staff sponsored a large grocery delivery for Ms. Morning’s family and also sponsored a ham and turkey dinner for Thanksgiving.”
The family has seen even more support from a GoFundMe page that has raised over $23,000 for medical expenses -- both for Morning and her mother, who recently got out of the intensive care unit
“The support has been wonderful,” said Streat.
But some have decided to take from this family that has already lost so much. Streat said looters have continued to hit the home since the fire.
“People have been going inside, just taking what they want to take," he said. "Outside here, they have taken everything that is metal. Even this morning, they went to the front and took the bars off the front door. So they come in every night, kick the door in and we have to reestablish the door every night.”
Morning's family said they are not focused what has been lost, but what was saved.
“That’s not important, they can have it,” said Williams. “We have the two most important things and that is my mother and Cheryl.”