WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– Investigators say an apartment fire off Wrightsville Avenue last night quickly filled the home with smoke, with one woman still inside. Before firefighters could arrive, neighbors jumped to action.
“I got home. Sat down. Was just playing with the dog, trying to relax, and then we heard some screams from the backyard,” neighbor Andrew Bartels said. “We went out there, and somebody was screaming, ‘Call 911!'”
Bartels says at first he didn’t realize his neighbors’ home on Pompano Court was on fire. Soon, black smoke started billowing from the windows, and he figured out someone was inside.
Another man decided to brave the smoke and went inside the burning building to help. Bartels says when that man lifted the woman to the window, he pulled her to safety.
“He pushed her up enough that I could grab under her arms and then I just pulled her out,” Bartels said.
The Wilmington Fire Department says the fire started in the kitchen because of unattended cooking.
Responders say they aren’t sure if the woman would have been saved from the flames if the two men didn’t step up and help when they did.
Bartels say he was just doing what he thought he should.
“It doesn’t seem real to be honest with you,” he said. “I just went out there, everybody was screaming. I just wanted to help out. It’s pretty crazy. It doesn’t seem like it really happened.”
Damages to the home from the fire are an estimated $50,000 to the building and $20,000 to the contents.
There is no word yet if the residents had insurance.