Crippled man pulls neighbor from burning home, another dies - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Crippled man pulls neighbor from burning home, another dies

by Roslyn Giles  - email | bio

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus firefighters are investigating the cause of a house fire that left one man dead and another hospitalized. It happened early Thursday morning just before 3 a.m. at 7 Estes Drive in Benning Hills.

Neighbor Roger Baldwin described the frightening moments.  "Smoke was coming out from everywhere. It was all around the windows. I said Lordy, they need to hurry up and get here and get this man, but it was terrible. Thank God, I did what I could to help," says Baldwin.

49 year old Ransom Farley didn't make it out alive.  Firefighters say they found him in the hallway where it appeared he tried to escape, but collapsed.  Baldwin rescued one of the two survivors, Chris Thorpe, who he calls "Poppa Joe."

"I heard him hollering and I just dropped my stick. Where I got the strength to do that; I don't know. I guess it was God that did that."  Baldwin walks with a cane, after enduring several hip surgeries; the latest one was just three weeks ago.  But, his aliment, he says, didn't seem to matter when he saw his friend in need.

Baldwin says he had a hard time keeping Thorpe from re-entering the home to get Farley. He says the flames and smoke were too intense. "He said, 'I got to get him out.' I said, Poppa Joe, it's too late. We can't do nothing, "says Baldwin.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.  Fire Marshal Thomas Streeter says, "There were two space heaters and an electrical shortage. Investigators are going back out there today to make a determination."

Thorpe is listed in unsatisfactory condition at Columbus Regional Hospital. Joseph Vancleave escaped the fire unharmed.

Streeter wants to warn everyone as we enter the colder months to make sure space heaters are not near combustibles.

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