Fayette County

Neighbor saves man from East Loudon house fire

A Lexington man was credited with pulling a neighbor out of a burning house early Monday morning in East Lexington.

The fire began about 2:30 a.m. at 268 East Loudon Avenue. Flames were confined to the kitchen, but thick black smoke filled the entire house, Lexington fire department Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said. A man and two women were taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.

Chris Soulis, who lives two houses down from the house that caught fire, had just gotten home from visiting a friend when the fire started. He said his car had lost power on the drive home; he was outside reading the manual to try to figure out what the problem was.

"It's a Volvo, so it's like trying to figure out how dolphins think," said Soulis, 35.

He heard glass breaking, a familiar sound in the East End neighborhood and, at first, he didn't think anything of it.

"We live on Loudon, so it's not uncommon for glass to be breaking," he said. "Then it happened again, and I thought, 'That was too loud to be a bottle.' "

From his back yard, he could see flames shooting through the window of his neighbor's home. He told his wife to call 911 and ran to the house, where he could hear people screaming for help inside. He then called 911, too.

Soulis circled the house, examining doors and windows. The only window that wasn't shut tight was a small window about 5 or 6 feet off the ground at the back of the house.

He climbed on a chair and pried the window open. Soulis shined a light from his cellphone into the room and began calling for anyone inside to come toward his voice. The smoke was so thick he couldn't tell that the room was a bathroom.

"The toilet was probably 3 feet away from me, but it was so dark I couldn't tell it was a toilet," he said.

Soon, a woman stumbled to the window. Soulis grabbed onto her arms to pull her out of the window when she seemed to lose consciousness and fall onto the floor, he said.

"I said 'You have to get up, let's go,"' Soulis said. "'You have to will yourself to get up.' So she did."

Soulis pulled her head-first through the open window, using his body to break her fall. A police officer who had just arrived helped him carry her to the street.

When firefighters arrived about a minute later, they pulled a second woman from another window. Firefighters then searched the house, pulling an unconscious man to safety.

The man was having trouble breathing, Griggs said. Firefighters resuscitated him before he and the two women were taken to the hospital.

The victims' names and conditions were not available Monday.

Griggs praised Soulis and the police officer, saying that they helped the woman escape without going inside the smoke-filled house and putting themselves in harm's way.

"They did exactly what was right," Griggs said.

Soulis laughed when asked whether he felt like a hero. "No," he said.

"I just think you have to look out for one another, especially when everything is going to hell in a handbasket all around the world," he said. "On Loudon, that kind of goodwill probably needs to happen more than other places."