Heroic neighbors, firefighters credited with saving life of house fire victim

Fire could have proved fatal had help not arrived in time

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An elderly woman is recovering thanks to the heroic actions of neighbors and firefighters during a weekend house fire.

The victim suffered what are described as life-threatening injuries. But authorities tell us it's a fire that nearly proved fatal if not for the help that arrived just in time.

Firefighters rushed to the scene of this house fire Saturday night, October 13, on Anna Street in Shreveport's Lakeside neighborhood, after reports the owner was still inside.

Vince Lee described how he and a fellow neighbor ran to the front door when they first spotted the smoke.

"We were hollering to her, talking to her. But we couldn't get in because the smoke was so bad."

Lee said they instructed the victim, who he identified as Irma Jean Roberts, to stay low and crawl towards the light of the door.

"I threw one of them planters through the window. And then I kicked the door in."

But Lee told us the smoke was so thick they still could not see Roberts inside.

"We could hear her saying something and then all the sudden boom! And it blew us out the door."

Lee recalled that moments after a blast tossed them to the ground fire several feet away crews arrived, including 23-year-old Station 8 firefighter Michael Covert, Junior who rushed inside to find the victim.

"I was kind of crouching at the time and I was able to actually visualize her. So I just kind of picked her up and kept her real low and just kind of went out that way."

Lee added that he noticed likely signs of early dementia possibly setting in with this victim long before the tragedy unfolded over the weekend.

In one case Lee said she tried to get into his house one night a few months ago. In another instance, she was found wandering around the neighborhood by herself.

"This shouldn't have happened," concluded Lee, as he pointed inside the shattered front window to the charred remains inside.

Lee said despite making phone calls to get Roberts help, nothing ever came of those efforts.

With word that the fire started in the kitchen, Lee explained that at the very least the natural gas to the oven should have been cut off to protect his elderly neighbor.

If the firefighter’s name, Michael Covert, Junior, sounds familiar, it’s likely because a decade ago, on May 18, 2008, Michael Covert Senior rescued a trapped child from an apartment fire off Youree Drive in Shreveport.

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