NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) – A fire destroyed the garage of a North Highlands home overnight.
The blaze started just before 2 a.m. on North Country Drive near Brown Otter Drive. Walter Williams, a retired air force veteran, lives alone in the home and was able to get out safely, thanks to a fire alarm.
“I was just sitting reading and I heard a loud pop. I heard the fire alarm go off, and I started to go in the garage and flames were coming from underneath the door,” said Williams.
The hard-of-hearing 83-year-old was lucky to escape his home as flames quickly ballooned into a sweltering fireball. It spread into the attic, down the driveway and into the street.
“It was very, very hot. I probably singed some hairs pulling him out,” neighbor Earl McComb said.
The continuous popping sounds and roaring flames drew neighbors from their homes as they raced into the inferno to help the retired veteran.
“The next-door neighbor and I picked him up, brought him out and called 911,” said McComb.
Firefighters battled the swirling flames and fought to keep it from spreading to nearby houses, but there was one piece of nostalgia they couldn’t save.
“My mom’s car – sitting right here – a total loss,” said Williams’ son, Chuch Crooks. “She died 11 years ago. He still had everything in the house exactly the way she left it — very sentimental.”
Fire crews returned to the charred home a few hours later, checking for hot spots and spark-ups in the wake of Wednesday’s gusty winds.
Even though parts of Williams’ house has been reduced to rubble, the family says it’s the memories he’s created inside that he can take with him to make his next house a home.
Restoration crews were on the scene to determine whether the house is at all salvageable.
The fire started in the garage but the cause is still under investigation.
Williams will be staying with family.