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Christmas Rescue: Flagler Beach Firemen Save Knocked-Out Veteran From Blazing Home

| December 23, 2010

The fire started on the bed in the bedroom of the unit at The Village. Somehow, Old Glory escaped with only a few scrapes. (© FlaglerLive)

The fire started on the bed in the bedroom of the unit at The Village. Somehow, Old Glory escaped with only a few scrapes. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler Beach Fire Department pulled off what residents of The Village neighborhood might consider a couple of miracles. Three, if you include the circumstances that led to a neighbor’s quick call to 911. First, two firemen—Inspector Scott Jackson and Alex Wilhite—found and pulled an unconscious, 44-year-old disabled veteran out of his home through blinding smoke and fire. Second, they managed to contain then kill the house fire within 40 minutes, preventing it from touching two adjoining units in the 64-unit multiplex compound.

Roy Davis, the veteran who’d lived at 7 Village Drive for the past three years, is recovering, in stable condition, at Florida Hospital Flagler.

Debbie Bancroft doesn’t usually live next door to Davis. Her permanent home is in Virginia. She keeps the place at #5 Village Drive so she can visit her children and grandchildren. She happened to be visiting these days. She was getting ready to go Christmas shopping with her daughter just after 10 this morning when she heard what she thought was the garbage truck, because it went bee-bee-beep. “But it was his smoke alarm, because it didn’t stop,” Bancroft said. She went out the door, briefly freaked out at the sight—smoke pouring out of windows—and started beating on Davis’s door. “I just beat on it and hollered and I didn’t hear anything, so that’s when I grabbed my cell phone, you know, in the meantime of trying to beat on the door, running in and got my cell phone, I was on 911. They were here very quickly. Very quickly, because I said, ‘where are they?,’ and she said they’re on their way, it’s only been a minute or two. I’m like OK. When you’re in a panic like that, you think it’s hours when it’s only been minutes.”

Meanwhile the young resident on the other side of Davis’ place was sound asleep as the fire began. Another neighbor pounded on her door repeatedly to wake her up, and managed to do so.

The fire department got the call at precisely 10:14. It was at the scene at 10:18.


Shane Wood and Scott Jackson Describe the Scene (Wood Speaks First)
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Flagler Beach Police office R.S. Burns got there just before the fire department did. “I arrived on scene, saw heavy smoke coming out of the north window of the unit,” Burns said. “When I started approaching the building, flames were coming out by that time. Neighbors were yelling that somebody was inside the residence. Forced entry, attempted to locate, but smoke was overwhelming. I went in there twice. That’s when the fire department arrived on scene. They got the breathing apparatuses and proper equipment.”

Assistant Fire Chief Shane Wood was in charge (Flagler Beach Fire Chief Martin Roberts was on his way out of town to be with family for Christmas when he got the call and turned around). “We were advised that there was possibly a victim inside, so they did their rescue sweep and found him,” Wood said. He was in the living room, in the back part of the 785-square-foot apartment. Unconscious, on the floor.

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“I barely found him,” Jackson said, describing the scene: “As I went in—I mean, I’m the officer, so as I went in, I went in first, and went to the right, where the fire was, to see if that might be where the vic was, it was black smoke to the ground, we couldn’t see, there was no visibility, so we felt around the bed, and it got so hot in there we had to come out. As I walked by the door, my hose team was there, I told them to proceed in and head right and get that fire knocked down, then me and my other partner, my two guys on one side went and got the fire, me and my other partner went toward the back looking for the victim, and once we got to the end of the living room, we found him laying on the ground, unconscious. So we picked him up and carried him out.”

At that point, the main bedroom on the front of the house was ablaze. The patterns showed that the fire started in the bed, according to firemen. As to why: that question is officially undetermined until the fire marshal determines it. Davis is a smoker.

The priority for the firemen was to save Davis. “Once we were told there was a victim, we don’t really worry about anything other than getting him out then,” Jackson said. “We don’t care what the conditions are. From that point, that’s part of our job, is not to worry about ourselves, worry about what to do, and that’s save somebody, and we ended up saving the guy’s life, so it’s good.”

Once he was out of the house, the next priority was to kill the fire, which they did in less than 40 minutes. “We train hard, train a lot. We’re very aggressive,” Jackson said, “and I come from a long line of super-aggressive firemen training me. I started out in Alachua, came here. We move fast. We make sure we get ahead of it. I can walk up and look at the conditions of a house and tell from the outside if it’s something we can catch quick or if we’re going to have to just step back. And when I looked at it we were there in time to catch it.” The fire started making its way out the bedroom and into the hallway toward the living room. That’s where it was stopped and worked back toward its origin.

The house is smoke-damaged, but salvageable, according to firemen.

“Everything was really quick. They did a really good job,” Wood said. “We had the possibility of losing two other units, with them being connected structures.”

Standing in the driveway, between two fire trucks and looking calmly sad, were Michael and Meryle Fonte of Palm Coast: the owners of the unit that had caught fire. They own many properties in the county. They’ve owned the one on Village Drive since 1992. The unit, built in 1985, is valued at $47,000 this year.

Flagler Beach had 10 men and women on the call, including two members of its fire police. The Flagler County Fire Department’s Engine 92 and Rescue 11 also responded and assisted.


The Village Fire Gallery[nggallery id=46]
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11 Responses for “Christmas Rescue: Flagler Beach Firemen Save Knocked-Out Veteran From Blazing Home”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Kudos to all and even to this website for reporting the emergency.

    We frequently hear the sirens screaming by, but rarely hear about what was happening.

    Glad everyone was safe.

    o/t Whatever happened to the comments feed?

  2. John Smith says:

    Thats our boys, great job. You guys are worth every penny we spend on you. Thank you from one who cares about our Fire Dept.

  3. curious says:

    Great job! This will prove that the people like Art Woosley are wrong about the Fire Department. We need them and yes they are worth every penny!!!!! Mr. Campbell are you listening? Ron Vath are you listening? Steve Settle are you listening?

    I guess the agenda will prove itself over the next few weeks.

  4. Orion says:

    While this comment may not be directly related to this particular fire, Just why are there so many building fires in Flagler Beach.? I would bet that FB has had more house and building fires, than any other municipality in Flagler County. Going back to the unsolved fire at the restaurant North on A1A, and others, I am concerned, that even with the FB property being older buildings, there may be c common denominator.. Just a thought…

  5. John Smith says:

    Orion, before you run your mouth you need to get your facts straight. Their are other cities in the county such as Bunnell, Palm coast and even the county area in the Mondex that out does the Beach in house fires. Tell us what your thought is about the common denominator, both fires on A1A north of the city at the Sandpiper and the Shark House is in the county disrtict and were declared ARSON by state investigators. I would really like to know what your thought is.

  6. ART WOOSLEY says:

    My most sincere congratulations go out to all our firefighters and police officers, that responded to this alarm. Because of your quick and decisive actions at this scene, you certainly saved that gentlemans life, “GREAT JOB”,
    Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all.

  7. Debbie Bancroft says:

    First of all, let me extend my sincere thanks to all who responded so quickly to the 911 call I frantically placed yesterday morning! To watch these heros in action – from the first policeman on the scene who risked his own life to try and save another one – to the firemen who did the same – well, it makes me wonder if the people who want to discuss ANYTHING about this story other than the miracle that a HUMAN BEINGS’ LIFE was saved by these wonderful people who serve our community!!! I just wonder if they have ever really seen that & understand that! I wonder if they READ this article!! Let me correct one thing reported in this article. I am a resident of Flagler Beach & have been for 14 years! I am in VA more now due to elderly parents with a multitude of health problems. As a resident of Flagler County I was extremely proud of all these heros at work here yesterday!! I can’t believe, especially during the Christmas season, that people aren’t seeing the miracle that God worked through these heros! So thank you from someone who has never called 911 in my 53 years of living, but who now really knows what these wonderful people do after that call is made! Thank you for saving a man’s life, for risking your own to save another, for arriving so very quickly, for saving my neighbor’s condo from total destruction and possibly my own and others!! You are ALL worth every penny … And more!! Merry Christmas to all of you … And I urge everyone who reads this article to remember what Christmas is really all about … A miracle … And know that one happened right here yesterday by people who serve our community every single day!!! God bless!!! Debbie Bancroft

  8. Joe A. says:

    Kudos to the Flagler Beach Fire Department and Inspector Scott Jackson. They saved a persons life while putting their own at risk. A job well done!

  9. John Smith says:

    Oh my here is one for the books. Art Woosley giving the FD a pat on the back. You can not kid a kidder Art.

  10. elaygee says:

    Hope they press charges against the bed smoker who caused the fire and ruined other people’s property and jeopardized their lives. It’s not an “accident”

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