Neighbor Tony Cabug lives in the home next to the house that caught on fire. Cabug said because of the cooler weather he had his bedroom window open and he heard a cry for help that he couldn’t ignore.
“It really takes me back,” Cabug said glancing over his shoulder at the home badly damaged by the fire. He survived a fire as a child. At the time of that fire, Cabug says he felt helpless. “I felt paralyzed and it stuck with me for a very long time,” Cabug said.
On Tuesday, when his neighbor’s home caught on fire Cabug responded quickly. “I knew exactly what I needed to do,” Cabug said. He heard a desperate plea from a woman who lived next door. “I faintly heard ‘help’ and it was coming from the kitchen,” Cabug said. “She was not only confused but she was damaged from the smoke. She didn't know where she was. She was almost walking in circles.”
Cabug says he was able to crawl to the kitchen. “I halfway stood up and put my arm out like we were going on a date,” Cabug said. “I told her ‘Linda close your eyes hold your breath.’” With that Cabug led his neighbor to safety.
Another man who was in the basement didn't survive. “There is a high probability that smoke inhalation will cause a fatality in a house fire or burn injuries in the airway,” Assistant Springfield Fire Chief David Pennington said. Firefighters and police are trying to determine who was making the meth inside the home. Another woman who was inside the home managed to escape the fire. “Basement fires are very difficult to fight. For all intensive purposes you are crawling down the chimney,” Pennington said. “All the smoke and heat are coming up the stairwell. Crews were able to make it down to the basement and fight the fire but they are very difficult to fight.”
Cabug says he is thankful for middle school fire safety training that he put into action. “I got down on my hands and knees and I crawled like a dog,” Cabug said. His actions prevented the loss of another life.
Firefighters say it appears the fire started in the basement of the home but are waiting to confirm that using evidence found inside the home. A firefighter did suffer a minor injury but is expected to make a full recovery.
The Springfield Fire Department offers free smoke detectors. Anyone interested in installing a smoke detector from the fire department can call 417-864-1500.