A woman was “minutes away” from dying in a New Year’s Eve house fire before the Wiggins Fire Department pulled her to safety.
The fire consumed the home and all the renter’s possessions, WFD Assistant Chief Dale Taylor said the loss could have been much greater.
“She could not have been very far from running out of oxygen,” Taylor said.
The nearest resident on McGregor Road had just returned home from the store when he smelled smoke as he walked to his car. When he realized where the smoke was coming from, he notified the WPD and waited for help to arrive.
The neighbor believed the house was totally empty since the renter’s truck was not in the drive-way.
“As far as he knew, no one was in the house,” Taylor said.
Within minutes of the fire being reported, Taylor and his crew arrived on scene to put out the single-story house fire.
He said the home had been recently remodeled, so it was well-insulated and held the flames indoors. The fire already burned through everything flammable inside and was suffocating itself.
Taylor has been a firefighter since 1993. At first glance, he thought someone had left the stove on. He was carrying the fire hose to side of the house when he heard someone cry out.
“I heard something inside,” he said.
He tried to open the front door, but it was locked. Taylor kicked it open. At the sound of the door crashing in, the woman began screaming louder for help.
“I could hear her calling for me to help her,” Taylor said.
He could only see dark plumes of toxic smoke inside. But the woman called out again.
“I tried to look underneath the smoke, but it was so far down to the floor I couldn’t,” Taylor said.
The woman said she could not get out of the home for herself. He got on his hands and knees and crawled through the smoke until he felt the woman’s foot.
Taylor pulled the woman toward safety.
“She was a light person, so probably in two—maybe three—pulls, I got her to the door,” he said.
She was treated and later released from the hospital. The firefighters also helped a dog escape from the home.
Taylor said if not for a speedy report and quick action, she would have surely died.
“She had a good neighbor,” Taylor said.
In nearly 30 years of firefighting, Taylor has seen plenty who were not as fortunate.
He strongly encourages everyone to make sure their homes have working smoke carbon monoxide detectors properly installed. The warning alarm can give just enough notice to save lives.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.