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Modest Hero – A blind man saves his blind neighbour from a blazing house fire

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press A Northern Lakes firefighter is one of the first to respond to a house fire Wednesday evening on the 9400 block of Finucane Drive in Hayden. The family was able to evacuate before the fire completely engulfed the garage and entry way of the home. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Jim Sherman from Grangerland, Houston is a hero. When his neighbour became trapped in a blazing house fire back in March 2006, he did more than just call the emergency services and wait on the street for their arrival.

Despite the fact he is completely blind, Jim did all that he could to save 84 year old Annie Smith, who is also blind.

He first became aware that Annie was in trouble after she called out for help on the baby monitor system they share.

Blind since birth, Mr Sherman, 54, took immediate action. He knew that he had to help his neighbour escape. Just 4 weeks prior to the incident she had suffered a stroke. The woman was infirm and had difficulty walking.

Jim took his normal route to Annie’s house. He left his travel trailer home, and edged toward the rickety chain-link fence that bordered his property and her’s. Tapping it as a guide he made his way to the sidewalk and then up towards her front door.

”I got to the door and heard crackling, smelled smoke and felt intense heat,” Sherman told the Houston Chronicle.

Stock Image: Flagscanner.com
The blaze started in the bedroom of Annie Smith’s home around 9.30pm in late March 2006 (stock image)

Yet this did not stop Mr Sherman. Without any knowledge of what he might find inside, and just how far the fire had spread, Jim entered the burning building and began calling out to his neighbour and friend.

Thankfully, despite her frailty Annie had managed to reach the hallway of her home, which was now smoke filled due to the blaze taking place at the back of the house.

Jim heard her call back. “I took two to three steps to meet Annie.” He said, “I grabbed both of her hands firmly to get her out of the house. I was walking backward and she was walking forward.”

Fire crews dispatched to the two-bedroom property found the house engulfed in flames when they arrived 12 minutes after taking the emergency call.

Kevin Bates, an investigator with the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office said that Sherman saved Smith’s life.

“She probably wouldn’t have made it out of the house without his help,” he said.

Kevin Bates
Investigator Kevin Bates said Jim saved Annie Smith’s life

Not the first time

Mr Sherman was also the man to the rescue when Annie Smith had suffered her stroke weeks prior to the house fire.

Annie’s daughter, Delores Perry, told the Chronicle that Jim had heard Smith on the baby monitor when she fell to the floor.

He made his way to the house and found Annie. ”He got her on the couch and called 911, and then called my sister at work,” Mrs Perry said.

Mr Sherman said he agreed to check on Annie as a favour to the family.

The night of the fire, Sherman said he came home about 9:30 p.m. He said he was preparing to go to bed, when he turned on the baby monitor to ”listen in on Annie.”

He said that he heard the usual noises, Annie Smith’s TV and her moving around the house. Then he heard ”several abrupt popping noises.”

“I didn’t know what it was. It kept happening but she didn’t say anything,” Jim said. ”Then I hear her call, ‘Jim, Jim, the house is on fire!’ “

Annie Smith said she had been in the bathroom and when she came out, she heard a popping sound. She opened the bathroom door to investigate and ”smoke and flames just boiled out. I called my puppy and we tried to get out of the house,” she said.

A Modest Hero

The family were thankful Sherman was nearby and able to help. Perry said she was not surprised by Sherman’s actions.

”It’s part of Jim,” she said. “It’s just the man he is.”

Sherman, who has lived on his own for most of his adult life, was modest about his heroics.

”I’m just glad I saved someone’s life,” he said.

[Sources: Houston Chronicle, People.com, Flagscanner]