Gulfport Woman Pulled From Burning Home

It was 8:46 on Thanksgiving morning.

Gulfport firefighters pulled onto 32nd Avenue and saw a wood framed house swallowed up by smoke.

"This is a fire that we fear the most," fire chief Pat Sullivan said. "When he arrives and the neighbors say we still have somebody inside, this is the one that gets your attention."

Two different rescue teams entered Augusta Bates' burning home.

Lonnie Necaise was one of the first firefighters inside.

"You could see probably two or three feet in front of you," he said, "just deep black smoke, a lot of heat."

And a lot of tension.

The firemen knew Mrs. Bates was trapped somewhere in the charred structure.

But for a frantic few moments, they didn't know where.

"And as we went into a room," Necaise remembered, "we found the elderly female laying beside the bed, in between a bed and a dresser."

And according to Chief Sullivan, "She was within a minute or so of maybe dying."

Instead, fire teams pulled her to safety.

And once outside, she even had enough strength to tell them where the fire started, in the back of the house, near a space heater Mrs. Bates had been using.

It was another proud day for the entire Gulfport fire department.

"It's basically why we come to work," Necaise said. "It's the whole reason all of us that I know of in Gulfport got into the fire service, basically come to work and hopefully save lives and save property. And it just happened to work out today that a female is doing fine. Apparently she's awake and conscious at the hospital. So hopefully, it's going to turn out to be a good Thanksgiving after all."

Mrs. Bates was taken to the University of South Alabama burn center.