Quick-thinking first responders save Sherwood woman from burning home

Woman barely escapes home engulfed in flames

SHERWOOD, Ark. (KTHV) - A Sherwood woman barely escaped her home Thursday morning as it was burning to the ground. The fire happened around 9:30 a.m. in the Runyan Acres neighborhood of Sherwood.

"Please don't let me die. Please don't let me die."

That's what 49-year-old Renee Harrison was saying to Lieutenant Chris Ameling as her home burned around her. Ameling was first on the scene and saved her life.

"The house shook. I knew it was an explosion of some kind, but I didn't know what it was," he said. "I opened the door, I just live around the corner, and I saw black smoke."

That smoke was visible all the way from Little Rock. Ameling said when he pulled up, the entire side of the whole house was gone due to the fire.

But, Ameling's instincts kicked in and he knew that someone had to be trapped inside.

"I came over here and hopped the fence," Ameling explained. "So, I came up to the window, was able to knock on the window, and ask her if she was alright, if she could crawl out the window. That's when she told me she was in a wheelchair."

That's when he found out that Harrison was in a wheel chair. Using some quick-thinking, he grabbed a nearby dog house to stand on. Ameling began working to get Harrison out of the house while also keeping both of them safe.

"The fire literally started coming out of everything above me. So, I was just trying to keep her breathing, so when the fire department came on, they could start throwing water on it," he recalled.

And, the fire department got there in the nick of time. The fire was burning so hot, siding was melting and dripping from the house, narrowly missing Ameling’s skin.

Fire crews acted fast, cutting a hole in the house to get her out. The door to her room was giving way to the fire as crew worked feverishly to save Harrison.

Fire crews pumped water into the room to cool it off, so they could pull her out of the wheelchair, out of the hole where a window once was, and out to safety.

It was the epitome of teamwork and for Ameling, it was just instinct kicking in.

"What these guys did today, they're my heroes. I've been doing it for a long time. This was one time when everything we do paid off," said Assistant Chief John Dobbins, with the North Pulaski Fire Department.

At this point, they determined the fire started in the garage, but don't know what caused it. Both Harrison and Ameling were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Ameling was released with a few cuts and bruises. 

But after all the heroics, he's not too comfortable with all the talk of him being a hero. To him, he was just doing what was right and saving someone's life.

While first responders like Ameling may not be willing to call themselves heroes, but we here are.           

We were able to save some of Renee Harrison’s photos and memories from the fire. If you have contact with her, please let her know.


© 2017 KTHV-TV


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