A 16-year-old Silver Spring youth interested in firefighting and life-saving techniques rescued three small children and their mother who were trapped Thursday night by a fire in their apartment in the building where he lives.

Steven Goodwin of 8733 Carroll Ave. was credited yesterday by Sgt. John Parsly of the Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department with rescuing Ernestine Hockey and her children Joshua, 1, Earl, 2, and Germaine, 5, from their smoke-filled apartment. He said the fire -- caused by food burning on a stove -- generated a great deal of smoke but caused little damage.

About 11:30 Thursday night Goodwin and his mother, Karen, heard shouts for help from the apartment above their own ground-level unit. Goodwin said he ran, clad only in a pair of slacks, to the apartment above and banged on its door.

Finding the door locked, he said, he ran back downstairs, climbed to the roof that covers part of his own apartment and reached a small bedroom window where Hockey and her children were screaming.

"I punched out the window and climbed in," he said, then "I ran to the front door and unlocked it to let other people in." Returning to the window, he said, he handed the children, one by one, to his brother, Bryan, 15, on the roof.

Hockey was crying at that point, Goodwin recalled, and "I grabbed hold of her hand and told her to stay as low as she could." He then led the woman out the door to safety. Goodwin said he had studied life-saving techniques while doing volunteer work for the fire department.

Hockey and her children, who had shut themselves in the bedroom to escape the smoke, were unharmed. Goodwin and his mother, who had gone to the apartment door to help, were treated for smoke inhalation at Washington Adventist Hospital.