Neighbors also praise the speed of first responders

Residents next to 2303 Hope St. received an early wakeup call that no one ever wants to hear.

“Neighbors were beating on the windows to get us up. They said the neighbor’s house was on fire,” said Larry Davis of 2305 Hope St. “It’s been kind of exciting.”

A comparable scenario played out two doors east at 2301 Hope St.

“Our next door neighbor, I don’t know if he tried knocking on the front door, but he couldn’t get us, so he knocked on our bedroom door. He said, ‘Fire! Fire! You need to get out of the house!’ I went to the front porch and opened the door, and the house (next door) was on fire. I said, ‘Oh my Lord,’” said Debbie Wade.

With flames erupting from the adjacent house, Wade grabbed her phone.

“Someone said they had already called the fire department, but I didn’t hear any sirens, so I called and within two or three minutes I started to hear the fire department coming,” she said.

With firefighters on the way, Wade began to gather what she could.

“I grabbed both of our safety deposit boxes, all my medicines, my husband’s medicine, my purse and my cane,” she said. “I have two cats in the house and of course you know you can’t catch them when it’s bad. I left both doors open so both my cats could get out of the house.”

Wade credited police with helping her husband, Gary, who has emphysema, and her get to safety.

“The police department was just johnny on the spot and ushered us out,” she said. “I wanted to get my cats out but they wouldn’t let me stay in.”

Davis, whose mother and granddaughter were also present when the fire started, said their main goal was to “get out of there.”

“The fire department did an excellent job,” he said, estimating at one point flames towered over his house by 20 feet.

While firefighters prevented flames from making the short leap between houses, Wade says her residence still sustained some damage.

“The fire was so intense it busted out a window and melted some of the asbestos shingles,” she said. “The fire department put a tarp over our spare bed because the water was shooting in (the broken window), so we’re going to have some type of damage, but I can’t tell what.”

Although Davis couldn’t yet tell what, if any, damage had been done to his home, he was still able to heave a sigh of relief as he watched as firefighters doused hot spots.

“The main thing is all the neighbors are OK,” he said.

Both Davis and Wade agreed that the house that burned had stood vacant for at least two years. Davis suggested the property was not secured.

“There’s always kids in and out of there,” he said.