Stanford boy pulls niece from blaze

December 26, 2003

STANFORD (AP) - Twelve-year-old Wesley Camel crawled on his hands and knees through his smoke-filled living room early Wednesday morning, guided by the cries of his 4-year-old niece.

The Lincoln County boy had run into the burning mobile home looking for Tasha Kidwell. He found her hiding in a corner, behind the Christmas tree. He grabbed her arm and dragged her outside, where a neighbor scooped her up to safety.

Investigators spent the day at the gutted home on Goshen Road. They have yet to determine what started the fire, but dispatchers said they received the 911 call from a neighbor at 12:04 a.m. Wednesday.

Wesley, who had drifted off to sleep while watching television in his room with his 6-year-old nephew, was jolted awake by his mother, Phyllis. There was a fire in a back bedroom. Phyllis said she was awake at the time, but had no idea what could have started the blaze.


"I didn't see the fire, I just saw and smelled smoke," said Phyllis. "We went out a window at the end of the trailer. I don't know why we didn't go out the door, we just always had a fire plan to go out the window. I was scared, upset, very panicky."

The three had already climbed out of the smoky trailer before Wesley's mother realized Tasha was still inside, Wesley said. While his mother ran to find his brother, who lives in a nearby mobile home, Wesley ran back inside through the front door to find Tasha.

"I just followed her voice," the Lincoln County Middle School seventh-grader said later in the day, from a hotel room in Danville.

He and Tasha were released that morning after being transported by Stanford EMS to Fort Logan Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Her grandmother said the four year-old Tasha had recovered from the fire quickly.

"She was doing fine yesterday, I went to see her, and she was just acting like Tasha," said Camel.

Credit was also due to the 23 firemen on the scene, said Camel. Stations 1, 2, 4 and 8 fought the fire for more than 4 hours. The Stanford Water Department was also called out to turn off the trailer's water, said Danny Glass, Lincoln County Fire Coordinator.

"I think they (firemen) did a great job. I would like to thank them," said Camel from her room, provided by the Red Cross.

While the family lost everything in the blaze, Camel said she thanked God that everyone had made it out of the fire alive, with Wesley's help.

"Wesley's a little hero. We're all very proud of him," said his 17-year-old sister, Carol.

"They're kind of calling him a hero, and of course I'm very proud of him, but he's not really saying anything about it," said Camel.

Kentucky State Police arson detective Mike Spellacy is now in charge of the ongoing investigation.

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