Marion Woman Rescued from Fire

Marion Woman Rescued from Fire
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, Ill. - Neighbors and firefighters helped save the live of a woman trapped inside her burning home Friday night.
"When I looked into her eyes and she begged me not to let go, there was no way I was going to let her go, I wasn't going to let her go," said neighbor Tom Whittle.
Shirley Davis was trapped on the other side of this window as flames spread through her
"The smoke was so thick, you couldn't tell what was pinning her down," said Whittle.
Whittle and his friend broke the window, but still couldn't completely free Davis.
"Smoke was rolling over her head and we were trying to hold her forward and down so she could breathe.  That's all we could do," said Whittle.
An oxygen tank exploded in the home, spreading smoke and flames.
"When the kitchen blew, the windows blew out of the house and an explosion happened and I saw flames 10 feet from us...I was terrified of the worst," said Whittle.
At 6:18 p.m., firefighters arrived just four minutes after Whittle had called 911.
"One guy handed me the hose and said aim for the rafters, two others were helping her get out the window, and a third ran into the fire, into the smoke," said Whittle.
Marion firefighter Steve Williams was able to accomplish what Whittle and others had desperately tried to do.
"He lifted her out and got her free from what she was pinned on, and if he hadn't gone in I don't think they'd have gotten her out," Whittle said.
Firefighter Williams was injured in the rescue.  A shard of glass cut through his turnout gear into his leg and his ear was burnt in the extreme heat; yet he won't say he's a hero.
"I think the fire department as a whole is a hero.  No one individual could have done all this.  And we had civilians breaking down the fence and holding the woman up so she could breathe, they did more for her than we did," Williams said.
Whittle lost consciousness once he knew Davis was safe.  Then he was rescued by yet another hero.
"There was another gentleman helping us, he had a big cut on his hand so he knows who he is, he picked me up because evidently I went down, so he's a hero, he got me out of there too," said Whittle.
Shirley Davis was airlifted to a Springfield, Illinois hospital for burn and respiratory injuries.
Fire officials say the fire was caused by children playing with matches.