Landscaper turns hero during Fayetteville apartment fire

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Billy Carlile's quick thinking helped save lives.

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Billy Carlile works for Cumberland County's landscaping department. That's what he was doing recently, when as he says, God put him in the right place at the right time.

On August 2, that place was an apartment building off Old Wilmington Road in Fayetteville. Carlile was working nearby, saw smoke, and ran over. He began beating on doors, sounding the alarm.

"Without him we probably, we would not have made it," said a tenant in the public housing residence, who asked not to be identified. "It was really terrifying, especially for the fact that me and my daughter were sleeping on the other side of the fire."

"The flames were from ground height to about as tall as I was on the side of the building already," Carlile said.

Carlile said after alerting other residents, he grabbed a bucket and started throwing water on the flames that were burning up an outside wall.

"There was no thinking about it," he said, "just pure adrenalin and action."

For his action, earlier this week Cumberland County officials presented Carlile with an Exceptional Employee Award,

"I'm very humbled by it," he told ABC11. "I didn't expect this reaction, and it really is quite humbling."

Those he helped are glad he was there.

"I want to say thank you so much, Billy Carlile, because you saved me and my daughter's lives, plus, you know, everyone else in the building," said the resident.

The fire department hasn't said what started the blaze. The tenant told ABC11 she had just moved in. She hopes to get the chance to tell Carlile just how special he is to her and her daughter.

Carlile said he hopes to be able to meet with that woman and other residents sometime this week.

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