Maintenance man saves resident from burning apartment

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston Fire Department officials say a maintenance man jumped through a window into a burning apartment and rescued a man on Tuesday night.

Firefighters say the blaze at the Donaree Village apartments, off Dorchester Road near Lambs Elementary, happened around 11:30 p.m., and destroyed one unit while damaging six others.

Fire crews on scene confirmed that Richard Willard, a maintenance man who lives in the building, jumped through a window into one of the burning apartments and saved an elderly man.

Willard says he had no time to think before he sprang into action.

"We saw smoke flying out the front door so I got my master key and went in there and unlocked the front door and smoke came flying at my face," says Willard, who immediately called 911.

Willard says he screamed inside the home but heard no answer if anyone was inside. Then another neighbor told him the elderly man who lived in the unit was his father and was inside.

The maintenance man says he went "around the back and started banging around the windows... I calmed down for a second and jumped through the window... I couldn't see nothing... I felt around and heard him and grabbed him and muscled him up, pulled him through the window... and then they all pulled him out."

Firefighters said they also rescued a woman suffering from a broken leg from the apartment immediately above the burning unit, as well as rescuing a family of three, including a small child, trapped on the balcony of an adjacent apartment.

Officials say the elderly man was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Firefighters say the blaze was caused by overloaded electrical circuits.

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