DECATUR, Ala. – Decatur Fire & Rescue battled a fire at a residence on 7th Ave SE on Wednesday afternoon. Smoke from the fire could be seen drifting onto Hwy 31.
“The smoke was so thick it had all of us coughing,” said Wayne Pullum.
He lives across the street from Richard Draper. Neighbors say 53-year-old Draper rents the house with his sister, Donna, who was not home at the time of the fire.
Crews responded to the house just after 3:00 p.m., but when they arrived, four Good Samaritans had already rescued Draper from the smoke-filled house.
Pullum said when he, Cody Sledge, Jackie Stacener and a fourth unidentified man reached the blazing blazing, they could hear Draper inside.
“I got to the front door and you could hear him hollering ‘Help me! Please, help me! Please, please, help me!'”
When the men tried to open the front door it was locked, so Pullum said they busted through the glass of the storm door.
“We couldn’t see him at first, so we started hollering for him, but he wouldn’t answer. We happened to look down and he was laying on the floor.”
The men carried Draper out to the front yard, where Decatur Fire Chief, Tony Grande, said he was taken to Decatur General Hospital. He was then transferred to a burn unit in Birmingham for treatment of burns to 20 percent of his body.
“We just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Pullum. “If it was me trapped in my house, I would hope somebody would stop and help me.”
Decatur Fire & Rescue crews worked for nearly two hours to contain the fire, including about 20 firefighters and some new recruits.
Officials continue to investigate what caused the fire.