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Youth credited with saving woman, man from burning home

Joyce Newsome knew she was in trouble last Friday morning.

She had taken a break from cooking French fries to get her wheelchair-bound son in bed, when she retuned to a smoke-filled kitchen.

"I went to see about my food, and it was on fire," she said, sitting in a dining room chair in her driveway.

Ms. Newsome and her son, Al, had lived in the grey house on Hillcrest Drive for just two months, and had never had a problem.

Until Friday.

Immediately after seeing the flames, Ms. Newsome ran out on the front porch to find help.

"I hollered and I screamed," she said. "I hollered and I screamed. I motioned and everything."

That's what caught the attention of 12-year-old James Davis, who was at a nearby home helping his father with a drywall project.

"Her door had opened and I saw the smoke coming out," he said.

He called for his father, John Davis, and another worker, Michael Winbush, to help. They ran across Hillcrest Drive and got the Newsomes out of the house.

"We couldn't hardly see" for all the smoke inside, said Mr. Davis, who owns Jacob Construction in Hephzibah.

The trio then used a garden hose to put out the fire, spraying along the roof and behind the stove.

"It was hot," James said, his tan shirt and baseball cap speckled with sooty water droplets.

James said he never had a chance to get scared.

"If I was in there," he said, pointing to the Newsomes' home," I would have been."

City of Thomson fire crews spent more than an hour at the scene Friday. Since the kitchen was enclosed in an addition to the original home, firefighters had to tear out part of the kitchen's ceiling after they couldn't access the attic. Damage was contained to the kitchen and attic area.

Ms. Newsome said she was grateful for the response, especially for James, his father and Mr. Winbush.

"I'm mighty thankful for them," she said. "The Lord will bless them."

French fries - and hot dogs, Mr. Newsome added - are her son's favorite food, Ms. Newome said.

"He'd live on then if I'd let him," she said as she and her son waited in the driveway for family members.

Web posted on Thursday, October 16, 2008

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