Alabaster man’s actions save lives and property

Published 5:39 pm Thursday, September 23, 2010

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

An Alabaster man’s quick actions may have saved a woman’s life, and an entire townhouse neighborhood from burning down Sept. 21.

Shelli Smith, who lives off Cambridge Point Circle in Alabaster, noticed a nearly two-story blaze shooting above her neighbor’s townhouse at about 6:45 p.m. Sept. 21.

But by the time Smith noticed the fire, her next-door neighbor Josh Wood had grabbed a fire extinguisher and worked his way to the fire.

“By the time I noticed the fire, Josh had already gotten up there,” Smith said. “I think he actually had to break through a fence to get back there.”

Once Wood made his way to the blaze, he used the fire extinguisher to kill the fire before the Alabaster Fire Department arrived on the scene, Smith said.

“He was worried there might be a propane tank or something in the back yard. He was yelling for everyone to get away from the house while he was making sure nothing was going to explode,” Smith said. “It turns out both storage units in the (woman’s) back yard and a fence had caught on fire.”

After extinguishing the blaze, Smith and her neighbors realized how dire the situation could have been had the fire not been brought under control quickly.

While the fire was raging in her back yard, the owner of the two storage sheds was asleep in her bedroom a few feet from the inferno.

“When the fire department arrived, they said if the fire had gone six or seven more minutes, it would have gotten to the homes,” Smith said. “The woman who lives in that house was asleep when the fire started.

“If he hadn’t been there, it could have gotten to that house and someone could have been hurt or even killed,” Smith added. “It was just amazing. The fire was huge, but none of the houses or trees around that area got burned.”

The townhouses in the area are close together, and the fire could have spread from house to house quickly if it wasn’t brought under control, Smith said.

“They’re just side-by-side. It could have really damaged a lot of houses,” Smith said. “It all happened so quickly that a lot of us didn’t even know there was a fire until Josh had put it out.

“Josh is a great neighbor. One time he saw a police officer helping me to change a flat tire on the side of the road on his way home from work,” Smith added. “He stopped and told the officer he could go do whatever he needed to do, and he stayed and helped me change the tire. That’s the kind of guy he is.”