Neighbors Pull Couple From Burning Home

Frantic 911 call released

Monday, Feb 20, 2012  |  Updated 8:10 PM EDT
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A woman called 911 when she couldn't get her husband out of their burning home -- but she didn't have to wait for authorities to arrive. Instead, neighbors rushed toward the smoke and flames to save their lives.

Pat Collins

A woman called 911 when she couldn't get her husband out of their burning home -- but she didn't have to wait for authorities to arrive. Instead, neighbors rushed toward the smoke and flames to save their lives.

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Donna Musser called 911 when she couldn't get her husband, Jim, out of their burning home.

But before Prince George’s County firefighters and paramedics arrived, neighbors ran into the burning home and helped remove Musser from the second floor of the two-story duplex.

Jim Musser is bedridden and was unable to escape on his own. The Mussers' adult son, Chris, also made it out.

In the 911 call released, Donna Musser told the dispatcher: “I’ve got an invalid in here and I have stairs that’s on fire -- help me.” Later, her husband or son is heard yelling for help.

Four people were treated at the scene. Two were transported to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

The fire caused an estimated $55,000 in damages. The cause is under investigation.

According to fire officials, Gene Ward had knocked on the door of his neighbors’ house at 3233 Beaumont Street and told them that another neighbor’s house was on fire.

At that point, he and DeMitrius Handon ran over to 3229 Beaumont, where Donna Musser told them that her husband was still trapped inside in the stairwell.

The two men entered the home and went upstairs to find Jim Musser at the top of the stairs. They got him outside and brought him to the driveway.

At that point, Darlene Townsend, the daughter of another neighbor, also came to the aid of the Musser family. She provided first aid and care until the fire department arrived. Townsend is an EMT and paramedic in training.

The father and son were transported to the Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Fire officials said their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

Ward and Handon were both evaluated and released on the scene.

Fire officials said in a press release, “There is no question that the actions of these citizens are commendable, not only for their heroic actions but also for the caring and compassion of neighbors helping neighbors."

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