Neighbors rescur elderly couple Fire destroys Irvington home

November 13, 1990|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Evening Sun Staff

An Irvington man and his son were credited with saving an elderly couple who had fled to their porch roof to escape flames that engulfed their home of 36 years.

The two-story frame house of Walter Swift, 72, and his wife, Alice, 69, in the 3500 block of Old Frederick Road was destroyed by a fire that broke out shortly before 9 o'clock last night. But the Swifts were rescued by their next-door neighbors, Willie Anderson Sr. and his son, Donald, who used an aluminum extension ladder to reach them, according to Michael Sunderland, an aide to city Deputy Fire Chief William Hunt.

While the Swifts slept in their second-story front bedroom, a fire broke out in the downstairs living room and quickly spread, Sunderland said. At the height of the fire, flames shot through the roof, he said.

The fire was caused by an electrical malfunction at or near an outlet in the living room that was used for a TV and at least two other fixtures, fire investigator Capt. Robert Hatoff said.

The sound of the flames breaking glass and burning furniture on the first floor woke the couple, who later said they thought someone was breaking into the house, Hatoff said.

When Walter Swift left the bedroom and entered the hallway, he saw dense smoke and heat, Hatoff said.

"In effect," Hatoff said, "the man and his wife were trapped."

Retreating to the smoky bedroom, Walter Swift got his wife to her feet. Together they opened a bedroom window and climbed onto the porch roof, where they stood about 20 feet off the ground in a cold wind.

As the first of nearly 20 pieces of fire apparatus rushed to the scene, Willie and Donald Anderson arrived with an aluminum extension ladder and placed it against the roof.

While one of them held the ladder steady, the other climbed up several feet and brought the shivering couple to safety.

Neither the Swifts or the Andersons were available for comment.

Hatoff said no injuries were reported. Relatives of the Swifts took them in for the night.

The fire, which caused $70,000 damage to the home and another $30,000 to its contents, was declared under control at 9:49 p.m., Hatoff said.

Sunderland said while his report will simply tell what happened and who was involved, he felt that Hunt would recommend that the Andersons be cited for their quick thinking.

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