Neighbors rescue family

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The kitchen area of the home was totally destroyed in the fire.

The kitchen area of the home was totally destroyed in the fire.

The Ricks family of Andalusia went to bed, confident they’d taken steps to keep the family pet warm.

“We’re alive because of them,” said Ronda and Ralph Ricks after their family was rescued from their burning home Tuesday.

The Rickses, along with their daughter, Savannah, took all the necessary precautions ahead of Monday night’s below freezing temperatures – including protecting their pets by using a warming lamp on their home’s back deck.

It was that lamp that is credited with overheating and catching the family’s Sixth Avenue home in Andalusia on fire sometime before 6 a.m.

“If it hadn’t been for our neighbors Jason Jewel and Scott Carpenter, we might not have been here this morning,” Ronda said. “They saved our lives. (Jewel) was out walking his dog when he saw smoke and came running over and got us out of bed. (Carpenter) was looking out his window, having a cup of coffee when he saw the smoke.

“We are ever so grateful to them, and to our neighbors who have been so supportive to us,” she said.

Mayor Earl Johnson told The Star-News that Tuesday morning’s cold weather posed a unique problem for city firefighters.

The water from the firehoses was freezing when it hit the ground, he said. (Firefighters) had to use sand to coat the ground so they could walk on it without slipping.

Eventually, they had to climb into (the upper part of the home) just so they could get water on the fire.

At 1 p.m., patches of frozen water could still be seen mixed in with the sand in front of the Rickses’ home.

The home was fully insured, and neighbors have helped to feed and shelter them until arrangements can be made, the Rickses said.

“It’s going to be OK,” Ronda said. “We’re safe, so it’s all going to be OK.”