Resident: 'I'm Just Thanking God' We're Alive After Fire
Fred Williams said his friend and housemate is recovering from burns after lightning struck their home, sparking a blaze that destroyed the residence and killed their two dogs.
When Fred Williams and a second resident of the Wilde Hollow home at which he was staying were sitting on the back porch, watching a storm roll in Friday night, they didn't realize the impact of what was coming their way.
Lightning struck their home, which later sparked a fire that destroyed the Martinsville structure, killed their two dogs and burned Williams' housemate.
But it could have been even worse.
Williams said Saturday he found watching the storm pretty amazing, and he felt a bang when lightning hit the house. But the fire that ravaged the structure did not start immediately after the lightning strike, he said.
Instead, the 40-year-old Williams, and his 59-year-old housemate, who were planning to go to dinner later that night, both decided to get some rest before heading out. Williams, upstairs in his room, said he was awoken after laying down, with his housemate screaming for him to get up.
At first, he said he did not know why his friend was calling his name, but when he ran downstairs and saw a glow from another room, he knew he had to call 911. He dashed back up the stairs to make the call, but noticed a cloud of black smoke form behind him.
Williams said he took two deep breaths and ran back down through the smoke, fighting with his housemate, who wanted to run up the stairs to save the two dogs that were killed in the fire. Williams managed to get the other man to leave the home.
"I feel like I saved his life," Williams said. "At the same time, he saved my life, too. If he would have never yelled for me, I would have still been sleeping. I got him out of that building before it was the ball of fire that it became; he wanted to go back in to get the dogs and I wouldn't let it happen, not on my life."
Williams said he had experience in these types of situations: He served as a firefighter through the mid-to-late 1990s at the Mount Bethel Volunteer Fire Company in Warren.
On Saturday night, Williams was visiting his housemate at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where he said his friend was in pain but was in stable condition and was able to talk.
"I'm just thanking God," Williams said.
After two fires caused by lightning strikes that on Friday, the Bridgewater Police Benevolent Association has decided to raise money for the victims of both the Wilde Hollow fire and another on Donald Drive.
"All the firefighters, all the police, everyone who is helping out," Williams said. "We really do appreciate it, all the family [of the burn victim's], me, we really do appreciate everything everyone is trying to do."