Local News

Wake County Man Helps Neighbor From Burning Home

Posted July 24, 2002

— A Wake County man is being called a hero after he helped his neighbor out of her burning home Tuesday night.

Firefighters said the fire at 5700 Castlebrook Drive broke out around 10:45 p.m. Homeowner Virginia Ford was inside.

Tommy Austin heard the fire alarm go off and ran over to check on his elderly neighbor.

"I got out of the car and started up the porch. I saw her in the house and the door was unlocked and I went in. There was a lot of smoke," he said.

According to Ford's son, his mother, who has difficulty walking, heard the alarm and managed to get downstairs.

"Something collapsed or exploded or something, so I said it's time for us to go. She said, 'I need a walker.'" I said, 'I am your walker.'"

Austin helped her get out of the house unharmed.

"In my opinion, he saved her from great harm or even death," neighbor Patrick Bowlin said.

Several volunteer fire departments responded, including tanker trucks since the neighborhood has no hydrants.

"They had a minimum of eight different departments out here with tanker trucks lined quite a way up the street -- 300 or 400 yards -- ready, willing and able to do their best to put out the fire," Bowelin said.

Firefighters had the flames under control in about an hour, but the 4,500-square-foot home suffered extensive damage. The garage and a car were destroyed, and the upper part of the home was damaged.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Ford is the widow of Connie Mac Ford, a co-founder of Ford's Produce Company.


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