A 92-year-old Mississippi woman saved her neighbor’s life in apartment fire

Published 1:52 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

Janie Armstrong was raking leaves from the back porch of her apartment Monday when she heard a smoke alarm beeping.

The 92-year-old retired nurse sprang into action, found the source of the smoke, and pulled a neighbor outside to safety.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The retired LPN, a resident of the Country Village Elderly Apartments in Batesville, said she is no hero.

“I just did what anybody else would do,” she said. “The real heroes are the firemen that showed up and went right in there with the fire like it was nothing.”

Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor said Armstrong, who will be 93 in May, is too modest.

Although it was a small fire, it was a serious situation, he said—one that could have been deadly had the grandmother of 10 not been so alert and willing to help.

The fire started in a nearby apartment Armstrong located by following the smoke alarm. She knocked on the door and called her neighbor’s name, but got no response. She tried the door and it was unlocked. When she opened it, smoke poured out.

“I couldn’t see a thing at first, but I kept yelling ‘Jessie, Jessie, your apartment’s on fire,” she said.

Another neighbor had already called the fire department, but Armstrong knew there was no time to wait. When the resident was finally roused, he came toward the door, but stopped she said.

“I just grabbed his shirt and pulled him outside,” Armstrong said.

Taylor said the man probably had just a few more minutes before the smoke would have killed or badly injured him.

“He definitely couldn’t have made it much longer,” Taylor said.

Because of the ottoman’s cushions and covering, a noxious, chemical-laden smoke was produced by the fire, which is often deadly, especially to the weak or elderly.

The fortunate neighbor, a little embarrassed by the incident, did not want to be interviewed, but was thankful for his quick-thinking friend.

Editor’s Note: This is a condensed version of the full story that ran in The Panolian Friday, March 30.