Dayton neighbor saves family’s home from fire

Neighbors Elizabeth Coker (left and Shelley Redmon stand in Redmon's kitchen on Thursday, June 23, one day after Coker saved Redmon's home in Dayton from a house fire.

By Vanesa Brashier

A Dayton woman who saved her neighbor’s home from a fire is being called a hero. Elizabeth Coker said she was preparing dinner for her family Wednesday afternoon when she heard a loud banging on her front door.

“It was not a hello knock. I opened the door and my neighbor’s daughter was screaming for me to help her. I went into Mom mode,” Coker said. “I didn’t know if my neighbor was home, but when I saw that baby’s face, I knew I had to help.”

Understanding that there was a fire in her neighbor’s home, Coker grabbed her fire extinguisher and bolted out her front door with her husband Jeffrey trailing not far behind. Outside her neighbor’s doorway, Coker could see that the fire was coming from the kitchen where her neighbor, Shelley Redmon, had been frying fish for her family.

Dayton neighbors Elizabeth Coker and Shelley Redmon visit Thursday after Redmon paid a surprise visit to Coker’s home to thank her for saving Redmon’s home in a house fire.

With no thought to her own safety, Coker took a deep breath, got down on her hands and knees, crawled through the living room and dining room, and then into the kitchen where she used a small fire extinguisher to put out the blaze.

“Once I got the fire down, I sprayed it some more. I had to crawl out at that point because the smoke was choking me,” Coker said.

By the time firefighters arrived a few minutes later, Coker and Redmon had opened the windows to let the smoke escape the home.

Even though the two families have lived a few houses apart off Merritt Street in Dayton for more than a year, the fire was the first time the neighbors had actually interacted. In fact, they didn’t know each other’s names.

“I just moved here last June,” said Redmon, a single mom of three who works at the prisons in Dayton.

According to Redmon, her house means the world to her as she worked hard to save up and purchase it, and it is the first home she has ever owned.

“The fire was contained to the kitchen because of Elizabeth. Nothing else is damaged, except for smoke damage. It’s livable. The fire marshal told me it would have been gone had it not been for my neighbor because of how fast the fire was spreading,” Redmon said.

The fire did destroy her stove, the microwave above it and some cabinets. Redmon has already been in touch with her insurance company about getting those items repaired.

“I just want to say thank you for saving my house yesterday,” Redmon told Coker during a surprise visit to her home on Thursday morning. “You saved my house and you saved the day.”

Coker, a stay-at-home mom of two, would like to think she was just being neighborly.

“I don’t think I am a hero. I think I am just being a good neighbor. I think if anyone else had been in my situation and they had a fire extinguisher, they would have done the same thing,” she said.

As the two visited, Coker confessed to visiting Redmon’s house once before.

“I came over there one day and hammered up a board on your fence that was loose to keep your dog from getting out,” she said.

As the two parted and went to their separate homes, vowing to help each other out again if the situation arises, Redmon said, “My pastor told me God sent me an angel.”

This photo shows the damage caused by a house fire in Shelley Redmon’s home.

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