Explosion victim: 'Started out like any day'

Rubi Olivares says her 8-month-old daughter Leilani still smiles, but it's a different smile.

"It's not her smile, but she tries to smile. No laughs yet," she said.

Now, Olivares said, every smile is a blessing.

"The fact that I almost lost my daughter, if it would have been just another minute, she would have been gone. And Ruban, his burns everything was just so bad," Olivares said.

On Tuesday, Olivares, her boyfriend, Ruban Gonzalez, and their baby were inside their Pawtucket apartment when it exploded and caught fire.

"Started out like any day. I cooked breakfast. We were watching her morning cartoons," Olivares said.

Then she said she took a shower.

"I heard the blast. I opened the shower curtain and I just saw all the fire and the ceiling down, and I just heard Ruban screaming and I just ran across the house to grab her. I started to throw the ceiling off her when I got to her," Olivares said.

Her baby was covered in debris and burned by flash. Her boyfriend took the brunt of the explosion, suffering burns on more than half his body.

"He was trying to get us out. His hands were so burned it was raw. To know that he loves me enough to try and save me before himself. He's not going anywhere now. He's stuck in my family," Olivares said.

Gonzales said she was baking brownies in the kitchen when something exploded, possibly natural gas.

She said she didn't smell anything.

Olivares said she's very protective, staying at Hasbro Children's Hospital to keep a watchful eye over her daughter.

There are toys to keep the little girl entertained, but Olivares said she can't leave until her burns heal.

"It's really hard. It's really hard," she said.

"Everything was inside that house, memories that I will never get back. The baby's favorite things. The brand new box of diapers that we had just bought. Everything was there."

But she knows they'll rebuild, so Olivares focuses on the little miracles.

"She jumps in her crib and gives a pow-pow," she said. "Pow pow."

Olivares' family and friends have started a Facebook page to help out. They're also hosting a donation drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Met School in Providence.