Awakening to the sounds of his dog barking, Abraham Sanchez Lopez thought there might be a cat scurrying around his home on Orman Street in Dalton. But as he stared outside of his kitchen window through hazy eyes shortly before 3:30 Monday morning, it was clear the situation was much more serious.
“I didn’t know what it was at first because I was sleeping,” Lopez said. “Then I realized it was fire. Yellow flames going up and up.”
Lopez said he thought the little shed in the backyard across the fence from his house was on fire, but then realized it was the carport and corner of the home shared by sisters Faye and Carolyn Wooten that was burning.
“I knew that it was a home for two older women because we all know each other around here,” Lopez said. “I jumped the fence and fell on my face and hurt my hand, but I just took off to help.”
His actions have Faye Wooten and her family calling Lopez a hero who saved the lives of both ladies.
“It was a blessing,” Faye Wooten said. “We never would have made it out alive if he hadn’t come and got us out. I am just so grateful.”
By the time Dalton Fire Department personnel made it to the Wootens' home at 405 Burchfield Ave., Lopez had gotten both women to safety.
But it wasn’t easy.
Faye Wooten said she and her sister were sound asleep when Lopez started banging on their front door. Even though Lopez said he was screaming and hollering trying to wake up the sisters, neither answered the door.
When Carolyn Wooten, who lives on the end of the home nearest to where the fire began, started hearing the tires of her car popping and the loud bang of a propane tanking igniting, she thought it was fireworks.
“We keep our phones in our rooms so we can call each other since she can’t move very well,” Faye Wooten said of her sister, who uses a wheelchair. “She called me, but we still didn’t have any idea about a fire, and that is when I heard the banging.”
By then, Lopez was getting desperate to get into the house and took a bench from the front porch and knocked the window on the front of the house out. He said he ripped off the framing around the window and jumped in.
“I just started saying 'We got to get out, we got to get out,'” Lopez said.
As Lopez got both women to the front porch, the fire had spread to the structure of the home, and the ramp from the front porch was blocked by flames. Lopez ripped the railing of the porch off.
“He got us out and pushed her onto the porch, but we couldn’t go anywhere,” Faye Wooten said. “He knocked that railing straight off the porch with his foot. He literally knocked it down.”
“I couldn’t take the woman in the wheelchair off the porch with her chair, so I got down and put her over my shoulder and carried her away,” Lopez said.
By the time he got back, Faye Wooten had gotten off the porch, and police and fire units began arriving. Both sisters were in good condition. The only casualty was Carolyn Wooten’s cat.
“You see it on TV, but you really don’t know until you go through it,” Faye Wooten said. “We didn’t have time to get scared. It was heartbreaking we couldn’t save her baby. She had that cat for 15 years.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.