DREXEL — A family of four — and their dog — are thankful to be alive after two linemen with the town of Drexel woke them Wednesday morning as their house was burning down.
“We were just asleep,” said Amber Matthews, one of the residents of the home off North Main Street in Drexel. “Everything was up in the attic so we didn’t notice it was on fire. We all we woke up to a banging on the door: ‘Get out! Get out! Your house is on fire!’”
She said she got up, grabbed her kids and ran outside.
“It’s amazing that someone was able to see that and they could wake us up before anything serious happened,” Matthews said. “We’re all OK, we’re safe and we’re thankful someone was able to stop, call 911 and help us out.”
While Linemen Johnny Rowe and Cory Carpenter might not call themselves angels, Matthews expressed a great deal of gratitude for them.
“Thank you for keeping your eyes open and watching out for someone else,” she said. “It’s hard. In times like these, you’re not always focused on everything around you, but they were. They were, and my family is safe. My kids are safe and they are healthy, and that’s all that matters.”
They were in exactly the right place at the right time, she said.
“They are guardian angels sent from above,” Matthews said.
It was around 9 a.m. when Rowe and Carpenter were driving through town checking for downed power lines after some high winds Tuesday night, Rowe said.
He said they had gone past the house once and didn’t see any smoke. When they looked back around, smoke was showing.
“We were just coming by, and we seen the smoke coming out of the gables of the house,” he said. “We just went over and practically beat on the doors to get the guys out of the house.”
Meanwhile, Carpenter was calling 911 to get firefighters dispatched to the house.
“I called 911, we got them dispatched, got the kids in the truck and made sure everybody was alright,” Carpenter said.
He and Rowe both were humble about being called heroes.
“I don’t think (we’re) guardian angels,” Carpenter said. “I’m just glad we were here to help. ... It’s just good that everybody’s safe and nobody’s hurt.”
Multiple fire departments responded to the fire, including Drexel, Triple Community, Valdese, Chesterfield, Salem and Lovelady. Other departments, including North Catawba and Oak Hill, stood by to run calls for departments who had responded to the fire, Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Bishop said.
Burke County EMS, the Burke County Fire Marshal's office and Burke County REACT also responded.