By Terry Rogers
When Linda Elzey’s decided to go home to sleep on June 11, she thought it would be a normal night. At around 10 PM, her husband Butch said he got a call that changed the couple’s lives.
“Linda called me, hysterical, saying the house as on fire,” Mr. Elzey said. “I told her I was on my way and jumped in my truck. I was seven or eight minutes away, but I am pretty sure my truck hit 100. When I turned on Johnson Road, I could see the flames and there were already firefighters knocking the flames down. There was a lady there complaining that it took the fire company too long. I told her that as a volunteer fire company, those guys were probably on the sofa watching television or getting ready for bed because they had to work the next day. They did a phenomenal job.”
Mr. Elzey said that a fire investigator discovered that the fire began when sun shining through a glass top table on the new deck acted as a magnifying glass, starting the blaze. Mrs. Elzey was sleeping at the time and Mr. Elzey said she is normally a heavy sleeper. “A neighbor’s dog started barking so he got up, thinking he needed to go outside,” Mr. Elzey said. “He walked outside and saw the flames. He ran over and started beating on the door to Linda’s office on the front of the house. She woke up, thinking someone was breaking in and saw the flames. She ran out of the house and called me. The firefighters told me that she maybe had five more minutes and she would have died in the fire. I gave the neighbor a gift card to Arena’s because he literally saved my wife’s life.”
Mr. Elzey said that the support from the community has been overwhelming. He said as soon as people learned of the fire, they were calling, offering a place to stay, money, clothing, anything the couple needed. He wants people to know that he and his wife are good, they were insured and they have another home to live in. However, he understands that people want to help someone in need.
“If anyone wants to help us, give a donation to Carlisle Fire Company,” Mr. Elzey said. “Those guys were amazing. These are volunteers, giving their time to help people in need. We had two cats in the house and those guys searched rooms trying to find them. Both of the cats are okay, although I don’t know how because they were in a smoke-filled house for over two hours. But, for them to take the time to help us save our pets, that says something.”
The next day, Mr. Elzey said he visited Charlie Vanaman, a past chief of the fire company, who he has known for many years, wanting to express his thanks for what they did. “He just grinned and said, ‘that’s our job, Butch,’” Mr. Elzey said. “I told him, ‘yeah, but you don’t get paid.’ These guys do this out of the goodness of their heart, not for fame or glory, but because they want to help other people. They did not leave my house until around 2 AM and some of those guys had to get up and go to work the next day.”
Mr. Elzey said that he is very grateful that no one was hurt and that one of the greatest blessings was a call he received from some of the wounded warriors he and his wife helped over the years. “We sold the catering business about a year ago because it was getting overwhelming,” Mr. Elzey said about Troops Barbecue, which he and his wife operated, donating much of the profits to wounded warriors. “One of the wounded soldiers we helped called me when he learned about the fire and told me ‘you had my back when I needed it, now I’ve got yours. Anything you need, you let me know.’ You have no idea how much that meant to me. I appreciate every single person who has offered assistance. All I ask of them is to support your volunteer fire company, whether it is Carlisle, Milton, Harrington, Slaughter Beach, whichever one it is that will protect your home and family. They need all the support we can give them.”
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