Firefighters recall DeRenne blaze that left two girls critical - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Firefighters recall DeRenne blaze that left two girls critical

Posted: Updated:
Southside Fire Montgomery Division Chief Wayne Noha Southside Fire Montgomery Division Chief Wayne Noha
Former Wilmington Island Fire volunteer William James Former Wilmington Island Fire volunteer William James
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Two firefighters stood helplessly outside a home on DeRenne Avenue and Reynolds Street. They had discovered a blaze Sunday afternoon, while off-duty, and didn't have any firefighting gear. Two girls, ages 6 and 13, were trapped inside.

WTOC spoke with those firefighters Monday night.

Southside Fire Montgomery Division Chief Wayne Noha was driving down DeRenne when he saw smoke. He thought someone was burning leaves.

"The closer I got, I knew that it wasn't leaves," he remembered Monday night. "And as I approached the house, I stopped in the middle of DeRenne Avenue and I saw another guy pulling up," said Noha.

That person was former Islands Fire volunteer, William James. A 12-year-old girl then ran up and said her sisters were inside. Noha and James say they had to hold her back to keep her from running back inside. They broke windows and tried to fight the fire with a garden hose.

"It took everything I had not to go in there, but I knew I was going to collapse if I tried to go in," James said.

Noha described it as, "the most helpless feeling in the world." 

"You can't do anything," stated Noha.

In 31 years of firefighting, Noha says he's never seen a blaze move that fast. The girls were pulled from a bedroom unconscious. Noha has emergency medical training and was one of the first responders who worked on that 13-year-old after she was pulled from the fire. He drove the ambulance to Memorial University Medical Center where the girls were listed in critical condition as of Monday night.

Their names have not been released.

Copyright 2013 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow