Elderly couple rescued from burning house

FAYETTEVILLE It happened just after noon at a two-story home in the 200 block of Oak Avenue.

Officials say Rachael Santillan, who lives several doors down from the couple, heard the fire alarm and went to help, while another neighbor called 911.

Santillan says when she realized that there was an elderly couple still inside the house, she went in the back door to try and find them.

"It was thick in parts, you couldn't see through it was pitch black in the area where they were it was very thick couldn't breathe at all," she said.

She says she was overwhelmed during her first attempt, but on her second try she found the pair struggling to get down a hallway.

"The woman was going really slow, she had a walker, so I moved the walker and picked her up and took her to the door, and the man followed me," Santillan said.

Twenty-fire fighters from four fire stations responded within minutes and had the fire under control within 10 minutes.

Capt. Donnie Stafford, who also responded to the call, says he remembered the address from when he and his crew installed three smoke detectors there earlier this year through a program called "Operation Save A Life," sponsored by ABC11 Eyewitness News and Kidde Fire Systems.

Last year, firefighters said they installed more than 800 smoke detectors around the city. So far this year, they have handed out nearly 600.

Authorities say the couple was treated at the scene by fire and EMS personnel and were released with no injures.

Fire Chief Benny Nichols said that the quick actions of Santillan and the Fayetteville firefighters were instrumental in saving the couple.

Officials say they suspect a furnace fire in the home's basement may be to blame for the blaze.

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