Getting out alive: How to safely escape a house fire

Henry County woman rescued from burning home Monday

By Colter Anstaett - Reporter

HENRY COUNTY, Va. - On Monday morning, a fire broke out in the kitchen of a home on Palmer Drive.

A neighbor rushed in and rescued the 100-year-old woman who lives there.

Robert Johnson lives two houses away.

He wasn't home at the time of the fire, but is glad the woman is OK.

"She's been in the neighborhood as a grandmotherly figure for me most of my life. She's a very sweet lady," Johnson said.

He's not surprised a neighbor ran in to save her.

"We're kind of a tight-knit neighborhood," Johnson said. "We check on her on a daily basis, speak passing by, whatever. Everybody's praying the best for her."

Whether the woman was trying to get out or not when the neighbor ran in was unclear Wednesday, but Henry County Assistant Fire Marshal Kiah Cooper said if you're in a home that's on fire, get out immediately. 

"A lot of people actually try to fight the fire, gather belongings," Cooper said.

If you're woken up by a fire, he says roll onto the floor.

"We teach people not to sit up or stand up, because obviously the smoke rises. Hot gases, they're usually up high, and we have seen instances where people will sit up out of bed and when they take a breath those hot gases can become terminal," Cooper explained.

Once you're on the floor, try to make you're way out from there.

"Try to stay low and crawl out," Cooper said.

Easier said than done, perhaps, but potentially lifesaving tips to keep in mind, nonetheless.

Cooper also emphasizes the importance of smoke detectors.

If you can't afford them, contact the department at (276) 634-4660 and the department will work to get some installed for you.

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