20 Years After His Wife and Children Died in House Fire, Mass. Man Rescues Neighbor from Blaze
Two decades after losing his wife and two daughters in a house fire, one Massachusetts man helped save his neighbor from another blaze.
Mark Collum was at his home in Rowley on Sunday when he heard his neighbor, Deb Shanahan, calling for help around 5:00 a.m., according to ABC affiliate WCVB.
"There were flames billowing out the back, smoke filling up the kitchen," he told the outlet. "I just grabbed her and just took her out."
"I had a little smoke in my lungs, same with her, so we just kind of took her outside and things worked out well," he added.
In January 2001, Collum's wife Lisa and their young daughters — Lindsay, 4, and Carly, 5 months — died after a fire broke out at their home in Ipswich, according to an Associated Press story published that year. Collum — a commercial fisherman, per WCVB — was not home at the time.
While Lisa and Lindsay were trapped by flames on the third floor, his wife tossed their infant Carly out the window in an attempt to save her life, WCVB reported. She was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Rowley Fire Capt. Ron Merry — who coincidentally helped put out the fire at Collum's home 20 years ago — said that crews arrived at the scene of the fire after the Good Samaritan had already carried his neighbor to safety.
"There's a side story to the whole thing that's just ironic," he told WCVB, adding of Collum's heroic actions, "I don't know if a lot of people would do that."
According to Merry, Shanahan sustained only minor injuries as a result of the blaze. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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As for Collum, he feels fortunate to have heard his neighbor's call.
"I'm glad things worked out today," he told WCVB. "I'm just glad I was here and did the right thing."