Local News

Blind couple, neighbors escape early-morning fire

Posted December 14, 2012 7:15 a.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2012 11:33 a.m. EST

— Two blind Raleigh residents survived a fire in their home early Friday morning, and neighbors escaped without injury, in part, thanks to a school bus driver.

Spencer Jenkins said he called 911 after he and the children on his bus saw smoke coming from the home while on his bus route early Friday.

Jenkins said he knocked on the door of the townhouse and adjoining townhouses to make alert neighbors of the fire.

"I ran out and started banging on the door," Jenkins said. "I heard glass breaking, and the fire was coming through the window."

Raleigh police and fire crews responded to the home at 629 Bashford Road at about 6:30 a.m. Fire investigators said an unattended pan on the stove caught fire after one of the residents began making breakfast.

Neighbors say Brian and Linda Lewis are both legally blind.

"When I said help is on the way, they said, 'We don't know how to get out,'" neighbor Amanda Stephens said. "They know how to walk through the house, but to go out and around these (townhouse) units, they couldn't do that."

After hearing the smoke detectors, the couple escaped the house through the back door.

"They were frantic. I was frantic," Stephens said.

The couple was then led to safety by police. But, without the help of Jenkins, emergency crews would not have been there.

"This wasn't just an average day for me," Jenkins said. "I had to explain to the other kids why I was late picking them up. When I told them, they said, 'My bus driver is my hero!'"

Police said the couple was treated for smoke inhalation. They were released Friday morning, a spokesman for Rex Hospital said. No serious injuries were reported, and no other nearby townhouses were damaged.