Every man for himself: police say father abandoned family in fire

Published: Nov. 12, 2013 at 4:14 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A man accidentally set fire to the kitchen while cooking french fries, but it's what he did afterwards that landed him in jail.

Police said Robert James ran outside of the burning apartment at Booker T. Washington after midnight Friday and didn't try to wake up his children or tell anyone about the fire.

His family was awakened when smoke filled their bedrooms and they climbed through a window onto a porch roof.

Neighbors called 911 and Officer Billy Smith arrived on scene first, rushing inside to help.  He tried to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher, but by then, the fire had grown too strong, and he was forced out.

Firefighters arrived moments later to rescue the woman and her two children.

James was arrested on the scene when a neighbor pointed him out to police and now he's charged with reckless conduct.

Police said James was drinking when he caused the fire.

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