Visitors Spot Townhomes Ablaze, Leap into Action; They Saved Pets and Helped an Elderly Woman

By Dickson, Terry | The Florida Times Union, June 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

Visitors Spot Townhomes Ablaze, Leap into Action; They Saved Pets and Helped an Elderly Woman


Dickson, Terry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK - A fire that started right after a lightning strike Tuesday heavily damaged four connected townhouses north of Brunswick.

Glynn County firefighters are investigating the cause of a blaze in Caleb's Crossing, but Colleen Stafford, who was in one of the townhouses, said there was a deafening bolt of lightning just before the fire. And residents are crediting two men, Colleen Stafford's boyfriend, Aaron Turner, 19, and his friend Robert Karwacki, both of Darien, with saving a couple of pets and possibly an elderly woman who lived in one of the houses.

Turner and Karwacki said they had come to visit Stafford and saw smoke coming from the townhouse next door. The Stafford home and the one where the fire is thought to have started are the middle pair of the four homes.

Turner and Karwacki burst into her front door and told her of the fire, said Stafford, who lives at the house with her mother.

"He was like, 'You've got to get out now,' '' she said.

A volunteer firefighter in Darien, Turner said he kicked open the doors of other homes and got a cat and dog out of one and he found an elderly woman alone in the next house. The woman, who does not hear well, didn't know there was a fire or that Turner had kicked open the other doors.

The fourth house was empty, he said.

Turner said the heat and smoke were so intense, he couldn't get into the fourth unit because he didn't have his firefighter's turnout gear.

Stafford said she hadn't realized there was a fire either, having checked the house right after the lightning strike and found nothing wrong.

"It was really scary,'' she said of the lightning. "I'm afraid of storms anyway.''

Once everyone was outside, the rain that was falling slackened and the fires seemed to quickly engulf the roofs, she said.

Roads into the subdivision were still flooded after the firefighters put the fire out. …

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