LIMA — When Scott Dukes saw a plume of smoke formed over a neighboring home early Thursday morning, his first instinct was to run toward it.
Dukes and another passerby ran inside a burning home at 224 E. 3rd St. and carried Fannie Harris, 88, outside her home, very likely saving her life.
After she was safe, the two men got her a chair to sit in. Dukes said he put his Army jacket over her to keep warm, and he asked other neighbors for blankets and water. Harris suffers from Alzheimer's disease.
“She’s like a mom to me,” said Dukes, 55, who lives the next street over.
Later that morning, Dukes was wearing the same Army jacket he warmed her with, and one of his hands was bandaged from a burn. He spoke with Harris’ son-in-law, John Meeks, who was in front of the home sorting through charred furniture and other belongings.
“You happened to be at the right place at the right time,” Meeks told Dukes.
Dukes was outside smoking a cigarette when he spotted the plume.
“I’m blessed by God,” he said. “He really did it. God did.”
Lima Fire Department learned about the blaze at 6:34 a.m. Thursday, when a passerby told firefighters at the 3rd Street fire station. Firefighters remained at the scene for nearly two hours.
With more than $10,000 in building damage and $2,000 in content damage, Lima Fire Battalion Chief Greg Kirkendall said the house was a complete loss. According to the Allen County Auditor’s website, the home had a market value of $16,800.
Meeks said his mother-in-law is very loved in the neighborhood and often hosted cookouts. Harris lived in the home alone but has two daughters who frequently checked up on her.
“I’m glad she’s all right,” he said.
Kirkendall said the fire appears to have started in the first-floor living room; a cause has not yet been determined. No one was seriously hurt.
Fire at 422 E. 3rd St., Lima