Woman rescued from burning home
Alert neighbor's call may have been difference between life and death

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 21, 2004 -- A Sulphur Springs woman is alive today thanks to an alert neighbor who saw smoke coming from the house and a closed bedroom door.

Yolanda Foster was taking an afternoon nap when a power cord to an air conditioning unit apparently overheated and caught her home on fire.

A neighbor driving by called 911 to report the fire. The first fire units to arrive at 508 Woodlawn Street reported smoke "everywhere." Firefighters then learned the woman was asleep in a back bedroom of the house and possibly trapped.

With assistance from police officers, Assistant Fire Marshall Eric Hill said firemen were able to wake the woman up and get her out of the house.

"Firefighter Mackie Maxwell and [police] officer [David] Gilmore were able to get to the window and knock it out and were able to call her to the window and were able to pull her out," Hill said.

Patrol officer William Mayeux also assisted in pulling the woman to safety.

The assistant fire marshal said the closed bedroom door was possibly the only thing that saved the woman's life.

"There were no smoke detectors in the house," Hill said. "The only thing that saved Mrs. Foster's life was her bedroom door being closed, which allowed smoke to be contained in the living room, hallways, and back kitchen areas."

Starting around the air conditioning unit in a front window, the fire spread to the attic of the older structure and, due to the type of construction, firemen were forced to cut through ceilings and the roof to gain access to the blaze. Dollar loss to the home was said to be very high due to smoke and heat damage, as well as today's cost to repair or replace the home.

Hill said the Fosters did not have any insurance and would be trying to salvage as much as possible from the front rooms of the home.

Responding to the Thursday afternoon fire along with Sulphur Springs firefighters and volunteers were one Hopkins County Fire and Rescue truck, police officers and a representative of Hopkins County Salvation Army.

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