Quick thinking Pilcher’s crew saves man from inferno, inevitable death

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DOTHAN, Ala (WDHN) – En route to a medical call in Dothan early Saturday morning, a Pilcher’s Ambulance Service crew unexpectedly took measures to save another life.

“Pilcher’s to communication,” the radio traffic stated at around 1:40 AM Saturday morning. “There’s a house on South Foster Street with smoke coming from the rear of the home. 356 South Foster Street. Three-Five-Six South Foster.”

The 911 communication center dispatched the Dothan Fire Department to the scene where firefighters quickly took measures to put out the fire near the roofline of the back, left, corner of the home.

“We saw smoke actually, a whole lot of smoke,” Shanda Sanders said from the Pilcher’s crew. “We ended up stopping. We go to the front door to see if anyone is home. Nobody answered. I noticed the door was locked from the inside. So I started walking around knocking on the windows, and I went around the left side and that’s when I saw the flames.”

Sanders could hear a television inside the home, and she and her Pilcher’s partner guided firefighters to where they thought a person may be inside. 

The most important job for DFD upon arrival was to get whoever was inside the home out safely. One man was in the home, likely sleeping. Some who saw him after the rescue told WDHN the timing of the ambulance crew was pivotal in saving his life. The home was filled with smoke, and the inhalation alone could have eventually killed the resident.

Firefighters took offensive measures, meaning they were doing everything within their power to save the structure, but the fire was moving through the attic at a rapid pace. The ceiling overhead collapsed inside while firefighters were in the structure, but none were injured.

That prompted the battalion chief on scene to pull all firefighters out of the home. DFD’s efforts moved to defensive, as it became obvious the quick moving fire was destroying the house.

In a rare sight, one of DFD’s massive ladder trucks was fully extended fighting the fire from above.

DFD fought the fire until roughly 4:00 AM when radio traffic indicated it was under control. 

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