A man helped get his aunt and daughter out of a burning home early Sunday morning, but when he couldn’t get back in for his uncle, he received some unexpected help.
The Southside fire broke out just after 1:30 a.m. at the single-story home on Alice Ave. The house was fully engulfed in flames by the time fire crews arrived, but a few passersby acted quickly, before then.
Justin Kenworthy, the homeowners’ nephew, and his 5-year-old daughter were asleep on the couch, when they awoke to Karen Chapman screaming. Kenworthy got his little girl out of the house and helped Chapman escape through a window. But when he went back in for Karen’s husband, George. He couldn’t open the door. George had passed out, and fallen right in the doorway, slamming it shut from the inside.
That’s when three passersby stopped to help. Brian Boger, Stephen Scrogham and Jessica Kibler kicked the door open, allowing Kenworthy to get into the house and pull George Chapman to safety.
“It took us a little while to get (the door) open, but we got it open,” Scrogham said.
“You don’t even think, you just act,” Boger said.
The homeowner, George Chapman, was in critical condition Sunday morning, being treated at Wishard Hospital’s burn unit.
Karen Chapman, Kenworthy and Kenworthy’s daughter also went to Wishard with slight injuries.
The Chapmans also have three dogs that may have escaped the fire. Gabe and Boots are possibly loose in the neighborhood. A friend of the family asks that neighbors be on the lookout for the pets.
Gabe is described as a large, dark brown lab. Boots is a small, black and white mutt-type dog.
One of the occupants of the house said a kerosene space heater may have been to blame for the fire. Investigators also say it doesn’t appear there were any working smoke detectors in the house.
Firefighters reminded residents to use caution when using space heaters and to never leave them on overnight while asleep. Keep a 3 foot perimeter around the space heater and only use kerosene heaters in a well-ventilated area.