On April 19, Oliver Bailey was driving his 14-year-old son and his friend toward their home in East Hill when they saw the plumes of smoke billowing from Railroad Avenue.
Bailey turned toward the source of the smoke out of curiosity, and his son filmed the incident from the back seat of their car. As they approached, they all saw a burning house.
Bailey said once they saw the house in a “raging blaze,” the kids in his car were taken back by the scene.
“Whoa!” they exclaimed at the sight of the house fire.
Bailey parked his car next to the house and quickly approached the house to see if he could assist.
When he arrived near the lawn of the house, he said about a half-dozen people were recording the house with their phones as it burned.
Bailey said he was surprised they were not doing anything to help.
In the chaos of the scene, someone said there were three people still inside the house.
Bailey rushed into the home to assist anyone who might have been stuck in the structure.
Once inside, he began yelling to get the attention of anyone who could have still been in there.
The smoke was so thick that he said he could not see more than 6 inches in front of his face. The smoke was so thick, he had to crawl to avoid inhaling too much.
He began to worry for any possible survivors, not sure that anyone could last more than 30 seconds to a minute in the structure that was choked with smoke.
He heard a voice respond up the stairs and began to approach it before he found a man on the steps.
He said he grabbed the man by his shirt and nearly threw him out the door to get him out of the smoke and heat.
The smoke was too thick to return upstairs, so he grabbed a shovel and began throwing it like a spear to break the upstairs windows so anyone inside could get out.
Within minutes the fire department showed up, and Bailey got out of their way.
He took the boys home and showered. After he cleaned up he returned to the scene of the fire.
He had heard that no one else was in the building after the man he helped get out.
Tragically, he said he was told that three of the four dogs inside the building had perished.
Bailey found the family whose home had been destroyed by the fire and offered them a place to stay in his own home.
Now the family is temporarily staying with him and his family as they try to get back on their feet.
“They lost everything, and they are still in pretty good spirits,” Bailey said.