WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - The first thought that went through James Knight's mind as he approached his neighbor's house that was engulfed in flames was to save Janet Fairley.
"It was like family, you know? You want to help family," said Knight. "I thought she was in the bed or something when I was first coming up."
Wiggins Fire Chief Jody Hatten says the fire inside the home spread fast. His department got the call shortly after 6:00 am Friday morning.
Hatten says by the time Knight got to the house, the flames were so bad they were block the entrances to the front and the side of this building. That's when Knight saw the homeowner trying to escape from a window and jumped into action.
"I ran over there and grabbed her," said Knight, "She collapsed in my arm when I grabbed her and I pulled her out of the window and we both fell down."
Once he had her out of the house, a second neighbor came to assist him.
"I dragged her away from the house as far as I could," he said, "And I went and got my neighbor Tim, to help me drag her further away from the house because we know she got a propane tank in the back."
Hatten says the two men's heroic actions were probably life saving.
"She could have collapsed and fell back into the room and where she was at, it would have been several minutes before we would have been able to get to her or find her," said Hatten. "So I say they definitely saved her life."
Fairley suffered smoke inhalation and was transported to the burn unit at Jackson Medical Center for treatment. Hatten says the close knit community made the difference in this case.
"Neighbors watching out for each other, helping each other," Hatten said. "Not being afraid to react whenever something bad's going on."
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to one end of the house, but the residence still suffered major smoke and water damage.
After the fire was out, firefighters found the woman's cat alive inside the house, apparently unharmed.
Officials say 18 firefighters from Wiggins, as well as the communities of Big Level, South Central, and Magnolia fire departments all responded to the fire, assisting Stone County Fire Services in putting out the flames.
The fire remains under investigation, but Hatten believes it probably started from a space heater that was too close to some furniture.