Kingsport woman rescued from roof of burning house

Jeff Bobo • Jan 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Donna Glass credits a Kingsport Fire Department fire safety class for teaching her daughter how to survive a house fire that started around 4 a.m. Sunday morning on Memorial Boulevard, trapping her in a third floor bedroom.

The house, which belongs to Glass at 3609 Memorial Blvd., is the home of her son-in-law and daughter James and Becky Phillips and their three children, ages three weeks, 7 and 8.

KFD Capt. Jim Carter said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Neighbor and friend of the family Terry Slaughter reported the fire to 911 around 4 a.m.

Slaughter told the Times-News Sunday that James Phillips and the three children were sleeping downstairs and Becky Phillips was sleeping in a third floor bedroom. Smoke detectors alerted the family and Mr. Phillips was able to get the children outside, but Mrs. Phillips was trapped upstairs.

Mrs. Phillips broke the bedroom window and climbed out onto a narrow section of roof, Slaughter said. Mrs. Phillips had a baby three weeks ago.

Mr. Phillips tried to get her down with a ladder, but the ladder was too short. The fire department arrived a short time later and got Mrs. Phillips off the roof, and she was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center for treatment of cuts and burns to her hand.

Firefighters thought they had the fire out in the morning, but it rekindled around 2:30 p.m. Sunday. As firefighters battled the blaze once again, Glass told the Times-News how a class taught by KFD Public Education Office Barry Brickey saved her daughter’s life.

“What saved my daughter’s life was Mr. Brickey from the Kingsport Fire Department came to our church Tuesday night to talk to our youth group about fire safety,” Glass said. “Mr. Brickey explained that if the house is on fire and you can’t get out because you’re on an upper floor, you shut the door, bust the window out with your elbow, and you go out on the roof and stay. That’s exactly what she did.”

No one was at home when the old three story house rekindled in the afternoon. Apparently flames had worked their way into the attic, and although firefighters initially attacked from the interior, eventually they were called out of the house as the roof neared collapse.

By late afternoon the roof had collapsed and the flames were extinguished. Carter said an investigator would visit the home today to determine a cause for the fire.

Glass didn’t know how old the house was, but she said five generations of her family had lived there from her grandparents to her grandchildren.

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