Citizen Hero Honored by Fire Dept. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/18/03

Citizen Hero Honored by Fire Dept.

Lukata at the scene in December. Lukata at the scene in December.

It was one of the worst fires in Savannah in quite some time. Ten people were trapped in a burning house on West 38th Street on December 13 last year. Only six survived. Savannah firefighters say it could have been much worse if neighbors hadn't lent a hand. Today, Oji Lukata and several other neighbors were honored. But Lukata didn't want to get all the credit. He also wanted to give some back to the firefighters who helped.

Before firefighters even arrived that night, it was Lukata who was doing the rescuing. He set up his own ladders to get people trapped on the roof; he rescued two adults and three children, including one infant. Four months later, Lukata finds himself at an awards ceremony, receiving hugs and handshakes from Savannah's firefighters

"He took all the right steps, did the right actions and saved lives," said Chief Paul Taylor.

But during his time to shine, Lukata praised the firefighters who risked their lives that morning instead, one in particular.

"I never did get a chance to meet him or know his name," he said, talking about firefighter Earl Spikes. When spikes arrived on the scene, he too got on the roof and helped Lukata get people off. They had a problem with one woman in particular, who was too overcome with smoke to move.

"We had to try to work together to get her on the ladder," said Lukata.

And they did. Without the teamwork, they say more than likely she would have died. Now Lukata and Spikes are finally getting a chance to meet face to face.

"It made me feel good that he remembered me," said Spikes. "I just did my job, I don't remember that hardly, just remember what I did."

And to add to his modesty, Lukata also wanted to thank someone else, or something else that helped out that December morning.

"I think about the ladder because the ladder was an instrument and it didn't get an award," he joked.

Several other neighbors were honored today as well, including a woman by the name of Helen Hudson. she and her son gave the rescued infant child CPR that morning.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com

 

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