Hero dies after helping grandsons escape burning Livonia house - KMSP-TV

Hero dies after helping grandsons escape burning Livonia house

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By Taryn Asher
Fox 2 News Reporter


LIVONIA, Mich. (WJBK) -- "She called up here crying and said, 'My house is on fire.'  I said, 'You mean where my wife Doris is in?'  She said, 'Yes,'"  Alton Wilson explained.

It was at that moment he learned his beloved wife, Doris, helped their two grandsons escape a fast-moving fire, but sadly she couldn't save herself.

The 73-year-old grandmother was staying with her young, teenage grandsons at their Livonia house on Curtis Road while their parents were away on anniversary trip.

"She did a good thing, so I'm glad she did that.  Wish it could've been a different way," said Wilson.

Doris woke up to the flames around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday.  She then quickly woke her grandsons and tried to get them out of the house.

According to the Livonia fire inspector, who says the fire started on the main floor in the dining room near the computer equipment, a neighbor dialed 9-1-1, but before fire crews arrived, we're told one teenager grabbed the fire extinguisher, ran downstairs and tried to put out the flames himself, but they were too powerful.  He escaped out the garage.

The growing blaze trapped the grandmother and her other grandson upstairs.  She helped the teen crawl out of a window and onto the roof, but Doris, who recently had knee surgery and walked around with a cane, couldn't manage to get out.  She was overcome by smoke and died.

"She is a hero, absolutely," said Bryan Chapman.

The close family friend, who grew up with the Wilsons and their three sons, called Doris a second mom.  He went to visit the family at their Redford house still reeling from the news.

"Giving, loving, I mean she never thought of herself ever," he said.  "It didn't surprise me that I'm sure the first thing in her mind and the only thing in her mind was get those grand kids out."

Doris is described as a religious woman who always put others first.  How she lived her life is how she'll be remembered.

"We just had our 50th in June, anniversary, and they celebrated that.  We made it that long, so I'm glad I got her," Wilson said.

When the fire truck arrived, the teen was able to climb down the ladder to safety.  Amazingly, both teens escaped without any injuries.

Crews spent most of the day securing the home.  The fire is still under investigation, but we're told at this point it appears to be accidental.

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