Valdosta Daily Times

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June 29, 2014

Witness describes heroic rescues from apartment fire

VALDOSTA — More than a dozen people were displaced and one hospitalized by a weekend apartment fire in Valdosta, according to the fire department. A witness described heroic rescues on the part of firemen and an apartment resident.

The Valdosta Fire Department was called out to a blaze at an apartment complex at 617 Vallotton Drive around 12:01 p.m. Saturday, according to a fire department spokesman.

In all, 17 people were displaced, and one had to be flown to Shands Hospital in Florida for smoke inhalation, according to the fire department. The Red Cross reported assisting six families, including four children.

Eight apartment units were affected by the fire, according to the fire department.

Willie Jones, who lives at the same complex but in a different apartment building, saw the fire firsthand. He was standing outside his apartment, went inside for a moment, then came back out and saw Unit B “all ablaze.”

He described heroism on the part of one man who left the burning building, doused himself with water, then ran back to the building and up to the second floor to rescue a man in another apartment from the blaze.

“He got him out,” Jones said. “He was a real hero.”

The man carried from the apartment was badly burned from the waist up and had to be taken away by helicopter, he said.

Jones praised the speed of the fire department. “They were here in two minutes,” he said.

Firemen kicked in the door to another apartment and found two people who were asleep in their beds, unaware of the blaze, Jones said. The fire department began dousing the area with water and cutting a hole in the roof to get to them, he said.

“(The firemen) saved their lives,” Jones said. “Those guys are heroes.”

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