Good neighbor saves sleeping family from fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Good neighbor saves sleeping family from fire

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March 18, 2008

Albany -- A case of true neighborly love Tuesday morning in Albany. An East Albany man probably saved his neighbor's lives, waking them up to escape a raging house fire.

Firefighters struggled to contain the fire at 1406 East Second Avenue, as high winds fanned the flames. The fire was started by an electrical short in a light in Silas Hillsman's laundry room behind the carport.

Next door neighbor David Simpson spotted the fire.  Simpson said "I came out the back door, and heard something popping like. And I saw some stuff on fire over there, under his carport."

 Hillsman, his wife, and daughter were asleep inside the home, unaware their house was in flames, being spread quickly by high winds, event setting their van in the carport on fire. Simpson said "I ran over there and knocked on his door, and knew he would be home that time of day. But nobody answered."

 Simpson called 9-1-1 and kept knocking and calling until he finally woke up the Hillsman family.  Hillsman said "my neighbor, he got us up. I really appreciate that. You know it could have been a lot worse."

The Hillsman family had to flee the house with just their pajamas, not even having time to put on shoes as the fire consumed their home. Hillsman said "yes it was, that fire was moving so fast. It seemed like in a minute it had spread all into the house."

Hillsman said from outside it looks like they have lost everything, their van, house, and belongings. But he said his family can rebuild because of their neighbor, who is a hero in many people's eyes tonight. Simpson said "I don't think I'm a hero. Glad I could help."

Firefighters say the fire caused $30,000s in damage to the Hillsman's home, but it was not as bad as they originally thought.  They were able to save many items. They plan to stay with family while they get back on their feet.

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