PETERSBURG, Va. – Karl Dingledine was at home when the phone rang around 8 a.m. Wednesday. The neighbor next door was breathless and simply said “fire, fire, fire."
The 81-year-old man grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran next door.
"The kitchen was completely engulfed on the stove with flames,” he said.
He said it was apparent the homeowner tried to put out the flames --- likely a grease fire -- with towels, to no avail.
Dingledine began to use his extinguisher.
"All of a sudden [there was] a big boom and it moved from the stove over to the wall and over to the dining room and the living room,” Dingledine said.
With the fire raging out of control he said he knew it was time to get his neighbor, who is in her 60s, out of the house.
"She didn't want to come out but I finally got her and got her out,” he said.
Petersburg firefighters arrived while they were inside, and there were heavy fire conditions in the back of the home.
"There's pretty extensive damage, the kitchen was consumed by fire, fire also spread into the living room and it also started to spread downstairs,” said James Reid, Petersburg Fire Marshal.
As for the getting the woman out of her home as it burned, Reid was very glad the situation worked out the way it did.
"[It was] extremely dangerous, the lady was very lucky she had a neighbor close by,” Reid said. "It was extremely heroic."
Both were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, and released.
The fire marshal said there were no working smoke detectors in the house.
This coming weekend Petersburg firefighters will have a smoke detector blitz in the Battersea and Pocahontas communities. But anyone in the city of Petersburg who needs a working detector can contact the fire marshal's office.