Heroic Neighbor Saves Mother and 3-Year-Old Son from Burning Home

By: Josh McComas; Carrie Cline Email
By: Josh McComas; Carrie Cline Email

UPDATE 10/10/12 @ 6:20 p.m.
GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The power of seconds -- a man walking out of his front door at just the right instant saved two lives Wednesday morning.

It's an incredible story of heroic action within seconds after he discovered his neighbor's home was on fire. We all know when it comes to a fire, especially a mobile home fire, every second counts.

Thankfully, Chris Williams didn't waste a second when he ran into a burning home more than once to give two people a second chance at life.

“Saw a lot of steam coming out of windows and door and said, 'Look at all of that steam.' And we realized, it wasn't steam; it was a fire,” Chris Williams said.

Williams' girlfriend Misty Bigham said, "We looked at the other trailers and I said, 'No, that's smoke.' "

And just like that -- in that small, critical moment -- Williams took off running to his next door neighbor's yard while Bigham called 911.

“I was banging on the door and didn't hear anything, but then heard footsteps and she couldn't get the door open," Williams said. "So, I ripped it off, and there she was and her little dog was down there."

That's where this incredible story starts. The woman told Williams her 3-year-old son was still inside. Without a thought, he ran in the burning home, looked around, couldn't see anything, couldn't breathe and had to run back out -- empty-handed.

While many would have given up, Williams took a chance and ran back in.

“I thought we're going to lose a kid," Bigham said. "What if something happens to him and the kid? Just adrenaline."

Williams said, “As I approached her this time, I could see little hands coming out of the bedroom coming out of the smoke. I could see the little forms, fingers. I snatched him and brought him out and gave him to his mama."

Amazingly, Williams went back into the home several more times after that -- looking for a second child who it turns out wasn't home at the time.

“I wasn't thinking about what was happening to me," he said. "I did after and got emotional. I just wanted to get everyone out.”

And he did. Bigham tended to the little boy until the ambulance arrived.

“I had him over there for a while, and he just looked up at me and said, 'I love you,' ” she said.

The fire was ruled an accident, but there was nothing accidental about Williams' and Bigham's walk out onto the front porch in just the right moment.

“You can't get a better day than that you save two people's lives," arson investigator Keith Elliott said. "It doesn't get any better than that."

Williams said, "I hope everyone else would do the same thing if I was in need."

On a sad note, the family dog perished in the fire. The pet ran into the mobile home when Williams ripped the door from its hinges to rescue the child. Williams later found the dog and buried it.

Mother and child were treated and released. Ironically, the fire investigator said the mother just bought a smoke detector, but she hadn't bought the batteries yet.

GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A mother and her son are alive due to the life-saving actions of a brave neighbor.

According to a release from the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal's Office, Christopher Williams, of Gallipolis, went outside Wednesday morning and saw a heavy amount of smoke coming from his neighbor's home on Fraley Drive in Gallipolis, Ohio.

When Williams realized the home was on fire, he immediately began knocking on the front and back doors of the home to try to wake up the family.

According to the release, the 20-year-old mother was unable to open the front door, so Williams forced open the door and got her to safety.

The State Fire Marshal's Office says the young woman mentioned her child, so Williams then went into the burning home to try to rescue anyone else that was inside.

Williams held his breath and made an initial search, and found nothing. He then came back outside, took another deep breath -- and went back inside the burning home. According to the release, when Williams re-entered, he spotted the hands of a three-year-old boy in the smoky home and pulled him to safety.

As Williams was rescuing the mother and son, his wife was calling 911.

According to the release, the home did have smoke alarms -- but the alarms did not have batteries.

“This family is extremely fortunate that an observant neighbor spotted this fire when he did,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. “SFM investigators say the outcome would have been tragic in less than two minutes especially since there were no batteries in the smoke alarms.”

“The facts speak clearly: working smoke alarms save lives and double individuals’ chances of escaping a fire,” said Marshal Flowers. “I encourage all Ohioans to make sure their smoke detectors are properly placed, regularly tested and maintained. In addition, families should know two ways out of every room in the home and practice their home fire escape plan regularly. ”

The home was a complete loss.

According to the State Fire Marshal's Office, the fire started in the kitchen, on or near the stove. It has been ruled accidental.

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