The residents of a house on Sandersville Road credited a neighbor with saving them from a fire that tore through part of their home early Monday.
The two women escaped the fire that caused severe damage to the residence at 1880 Sandersville Road. One of them was taken to a hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, but her injuries were not serious, family members said.
Shelley Campbell, who lives in the house, which is owned by former Urban County Council member Robert Jefferson, said she and her daughter were home when the fire started.
Campbell, 56, said she had been sleeping on the couch in the first-floor living room when her neighbor, Walter Lee Taylor, began beating on her front door about 3:30 a.m. Soon after she answered, a smoke alarm began going off, Campbell said.
Taylor, who lives two houses away from Campbell, said his girlfriend told him to go check on his neighbors when she heard the fire crackling.
"My girlfriend heard some funny cracking and popping sounds and said they was shooting, and I said, 'Girl, they ain't shooting because guns don't sound like that,'" Taylor said.
When Taylor ran outside, he saw the light from the flames bouncing off neighboring houses and cars. At first he thought it was a neighbor working on his car, but when he walked to the sidewalk and looked at Campbell's house, he saw the fire melting the siding and a plastic trash can next to the house.
"The garbage can was going down like lava," he said.
Taylor ran over and knocked on the door. Campbell said she was startled by the frantic knocking because she had no idea there was a fire; the smoke had not reached downstairs.
But several rooms upstairs, where Campbell's daughter was sleeping, were full of thick smoke.
Taylor said he ran upstairs to check the rooms, concerned that more of Campbell's children or grandchildren were in the house. The only one home was Campbell's 21-year-old daughter, he said.
Taylor found Campbell's daughter in her bedroom, which was full of "black and white smoke that was just pouring through the vents in the wall."
He woke her up and searched the rest of the rooms upstairs. Campbell said she had smoke alarms upstairs, but they did not go off.
Lexington Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said investigators determined the fire was caused by charcoal from a grill that had been put in the trash can before it had cooled properly.
About 9 a.m. Monday, one fire truck was still stationed outside the house. The fire gutted Campbell's garage and a room upstairs, leaving nothing but a charred frame.
Campbell stood outside next to a pile of blackened rubble that included a five-foot-high pile of drywall, wood and siding, clothes, a computer and a heavily damaged motor scooter.
"These are just things that can be replaced," she said. "I'm just glad we got out safe."
For that, she credited Taylor.
"If it weren't for him, we wouldn't be alive," she said.