Damaged: Reginald King, above, saw fumes leaving the house and tried helping the woman trapped in the house.
Firefighters save home owner
By Nathan Owens
EL DORADO — A woman and her adult son escaped from a fire that destroyed their home Thursday morning. It was around 7:45 a.m. when the neighbor across the street, Reginald King, noticed smoke fuming out of the house at 1218 S. Rock Island Ave.
“Mom, Sharon’s house is on fire,” King yelled.
He ran to help her, but noticed the front and back doors were locked. King heard Sharon Burgie inside and began breaking windows to try and help her escape. The flames grew and the smoke fled higher before the local fire department was able to help Burgie escape and extinguish her home.
“We’re fortunate that this happened during a shift change,” said Assistant Chief Robert Rushing, El Dorado Fire Department. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have had enough people working to put out the fire when we did.”
Firefighters arrived at 8 a.m. with three engines, two command vehicles, and two station ambulances—one helped Burgie and the other went to Craig Street, where her son was.
A witness told Rushing that before authorities arrived, Burgie’s son, Chavez Curley, escaped through a window—thinking his mother was behind him—and ran to his grandmother’s home located on Craig Street. Burgie was trapped in the house when authorities arrived.
Cpt. James Bates and Lt. Kyle Jones entered through the backdoor, walked through the black smoke, and found her lying on the kitchen floor located in the back corner of the house.
“We had to feel around to find her because the smoke was so bad,” Bates said.
They pulled her out the back door and performed CPR on her until EMS arrived.
Burgie suffered from lung damage due to smoke inhalation and had a few blisters on her forehead, Bates said. Curley’s condition is unknown.
The fire department recieved the call from dispatch close to its shift change time, which resulted in enough workers responding to the incident.
“If it had been ten minutes later, we would have had nine people on the scene instead of 12,” Rushing said.
The department would have had to call ProMed for assistance and had fewer officials working the fire if the call didn’t come in when it did, he said.
At the scene, firefighters used four hoses to extinguish the house once Burgie left the property. The flames subsided around 9:15 a.m. and the last fire department vehicle left at 11:15 a.m.
The 1,734 square foot property valued at $11,750 with about $10,000 worth of items inside; and the cause of the fire is unknown, according to the fire report.
The fire department’s medical units transported both victims to South Arkansas Medical Center for treatment. However, a medic helicopter arrived on scene, and King suggested Burgie might have been sent to Little Rock for further treatment.
South Arkansas Medical Center made no comment.
Normally fires that completely destroy a building are called in late at night when most people are asleep, which made this case unusual, Rushing said.
“That’s what’s odd,” he said. “To have that much of a fire and not have someone call it in until then is uncommon.”
El Dorado Police Department are assisting with the case.