Woman alerts sleeping neighbors to fire, calls for help

Monica Wilkerson (right) consoles neighbor Josie Laird (left) after waking her up during a fire next door.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A woman shook her sleeping neighbors out of bed while a fire roared uncomfortably close next-door.

house fire 2Monica Wilkerson thought her neighbor had trouble with a lawn mower when she smelled smoke Monday afternoon. When she looked down the block, she saw smoke and flames spewing from a home on Glenside Drive in Susquehanna Township.

Wilkerson noticed neighbors next-door were still inside as the fire licked the car in the driveway.

“I was banging and banging. I’m like, please hurry,” Wilkerson said. “It’s not a kid, it’s not a joke. The house is on fire. You have to get up.”

Josie Laird said she eventually realized what was going on and woke her husband to run outside. Laird said she was in shock from what was happening and credits Wilkerson for keeping them away from danger.

“Oh my gosh, I gave her a big hug,” Laird said. “It’s very scary. I mean, that’s your worst fear.”

Wilkerson shrugged off the compliments.

“It’s just what anybody would do,” she said.

Wilkerson also called 911 and banged on the door of the home that was on fire where she thought someone was trapped inside.

Susquehanna Township Fire Chief George Drees said they were able to quickly respond and keep the fire from spreading.

“Three-and-a-half minutes after the 911 call, fire department and police found smoke throughout the building,” he said.

After crews made their way inside, they found nobody was home.

Homeowner Melody Tarpoey said Wilkerson was among a dozen calls all at once.

“I was at work. [Wilkerson] called me and told me,” she said. “Then, my other neighbor called me and told me. And, then another neighbor a few houses up called me and told me. I was getting barrages of calls from neighbors, telling me, ‘Hey, Melody, your house is on fire’.”

Tarpoey said she was stunned to see firefighters surround her home. She said her brother, who also lived in the home, left for work earlier in the morning.

Drees said the cause of the fire is under investigation but appears to be accidental.

“We do not think it’s suspicious,” he said. “Nobody was hurt.”

Even a cat thought to be inside the home was found unharmed outside.

“Everybody is fine,” Laird said. “Neighbors are fine. It’s just a house.”

Tarpoey said she, too, is glad everyone is safe. Many in the neighborhood credit Wilkerson for stepping up.

“I’m just glad everyone got out and everyone was safe,” Wilkerson said. “It was scary.”

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