Disabled veteran displaced after house fire; fire chief helps him escape from inside

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A disabled veteran is speaking out after his house caught fire Saturday afternoon. The flames ripped through the home and destroyed everything.  

“That’s when the fire went up and I said, ‘well it’s about time for us to make an exit’,” homeowner Archie Cooper said.  

This all happened on West Daisy L Gaston Bates Drive. Cooper, his caretaker and another person are without a home after the fire.  

“I’m just trying to help them as much as I can, but I really can’t even help myself,” caretaker Quanita Barker said.  

Emotions are high for Barker, as she showed what’s left of the house, she was also living in.  

“In here room you see the black stuff or whatever that the smoke damage did,” Barker said.  

She said it all happened so quick.  

“It started in here, this is the kitchen, and this is over with,” Barker said. “Like this kitchen is a total wreck.” 

The fire started on the electric stove Saturday afternoon and spread through the house.  

“I looked up and I see the little orange glow, I immediately ran in there,” Barker said. “ I couldn’t even get close to it.” 

Barker said she tried to move everyone quickly out the house, but it wasn’t easy.  

“And I got one leg too, I put my prosthetic on and made it to the wheelchair and made it to the front porch,” Cooper said.  

Cooper said luckily the fire chief pulled up to the porch and jumped into action.  

“He picked her up and took her out there. He never left her side,” Barker said.  

As Sunday afternoon started, they got a closer look at all the damage.  

“All this is burnt, everything,” Barker said.  

They moved so quick that yesterday’s breakfast was still sitting on the table, untouched. Cooper said he has lived in the house for more than 20 years.  

“Being a vet, been through quite a bit in my life,” Cooper said. “I take it one day at a time. I’m not upset.” 

Now everything has been destroyed. They said all that’s left is the clothes on their back.  

As they reminisce, they continue to count their blessings.  

“I came out of there breathing, I’m still breathing and everyone that was present is safe,” Cooper said. “So, I’m positive about everything.” 

No injuries were reported. One woman was taken in for a wellness check. Red Cross also stepped in to help.  

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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