HARDEEVILLE, S.C. (WSAV) — A Hardeeville woman is back home just one day after being pulled from her smoke-filled home by local firefighters.
Leola Webber’s family says they heard about the blaze Tuesday from friends and neighbors who love the longtime former Hardeeville teacher, saw the fire trucks outside her house, and were concerned for her welfare.
Webber’s granddaughter Sherrell Bright tells News 3 it was especially frightening because they knew she was inside, and her home had already burned once before.
That’s why they put in a special smoke alarm which directly alerted the fire department when the smoke started.
“It’s extremely important to make sure you have a fire alarm, that you have batteries that are current, make sure that it’s working because when it went off they immediately came,” said Sherrell Bright, Leola’s Granddaughter
That automatic smoke alarm inside Webber’s home called out to Jasper County firefighters just after 7 a.m. Tuesday.
That’s when smoke from a fire inside her kitchen knocked the 81-year-old, who suffers from COPD, unconscious.
Jasper County Fire Lt. Garrett Lucas was one of the first on the scene. He and other firefighters did what they call a “360” walking around the house looking for signs of fire. He says when they did, they smelled smoke and broke the locked door down to get in.
“Once we found the victim we moved her out the front door,” said Lucas.
Moved her out, to an ambulance, and to safety.
The Hardeeville Fire Department arrived on the scene to help with the rescue and the fire.
Lucas says it’s rare that you get to find someone alive in a house fire, but it’s exactly why the department trains so much, for just this type of emergency. And why they were ready to help.
“We do spend a lot of time searching smoke-filled buildings and removing victims,” said Lucas. “That is what pops in our mind when we are faced with that situation. “
As Jasper County Fire Marshal David Scheuerer says, that alarm and their fast reaction may have been just in time.
“Fire expands an average of 4 times every 30 seconds in some homes now. So Seconds do matter and can save lives,” said David Scheuerer. “Between that automatic alarm and these firefighters being able to respond quickly and be efficiently trained, that definitely saved her life.”
While not everyone has a hard-wired fire alarm, which usually comes with a monthly fee, Scheuerer says even a regular smoke alarm can alert you to smoke or fire, and give you much-needed extra seconds to put the blaze out, call 911 and get out of the house.
If you want a smoke alarm installed at your home, you can call Jasper County Fire or your local fire department for help.
Lucas and the other firefighters say they don’t believe they are heroes for saving Leola’s life.
“I don’t look at it as being heroic,” said Lucas. “I don’t believe we do heroic stuff. We signed up to do a job and that is a very vital part of our job.”
But Leola’s family believes otherwise.
“We are thankful,” said Sherrell. “We don’t care that the door is broken. Daddy said ‘I don’t care what they had to do to get my grandma out.’ He is thankful. So all I have to say is thank you.”
Her family says Leola is back home. She has a few burns on her head and face but is doing much better already and is expected to make a full recovery.
They want to thank not just firefighters but everyone who has called, texted or messaged them about Leola.