Indiana Man Sacrifices Self to Save Fiancée From House Fire

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
November 21, 2018US News
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Indiana Man Sacrifices Self to Save Fiancée From House Fire
The house at 712 West Fifth Street where Gary Smith sacrificed himself to save his fiancée. The small double-paned window below the roof peak is where he pushed his intended bride to safety. (Google maps screenshot)

A man from Muncie lost his life in a house fire but he managed to push his fiancée out a window to safety before he died.

Gary Smith and his fiancée were sleeping in the attic of their one-story home at 712 West Fifth Street when the fire broke out.

The blaze started just after 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 21. The apparent cause was a space heater that got too close to some clothing, igniting the clothes and eventually setting the whole house on fire.

Muncie fire investigators found other space heaters in the house in close proximity to ashtrays. The cigarette butts in the ashtrays would also have been flammable.

It’s a very sad time,” Robert Mead, the chief fire investigator, told CBS News. “The circumstances around what transpired here, most I don’t know yet. But hopefully, I can give them closure.”

Many Escaped, One Was Lost

According to CBS News, there were at least nine people in the house besides Smith and his fiancée, including three children. There were also three dogs.

The commotion Smith raised as he worked to rescue his fiancée alerted the other residents.

All of them, including the pets, escaped safely.

The fire trapped Smith and his fiancée in the attic. Smith had to throw his fiancée out the attic window. She fell to the roof of the porch below, and then about eight feet to the ground below.

One of the survivors, Travis Rice, was the brother of Smith’s fiancée. They would have been brothers-in-law after the wedding.

Rice woke up when he heard his sister, Smith’s fiancée, falling to the ground outside.

“I was inside and I heard the commotion of her being thrown out the window,” Rice told CBS News.

“She was coming back in the house as I came out of my bedroom and she said, ‘The house is on fire and Gary is still upstairs.’ I went for the attic door.”

Rice was not able to get through the flames to reach the attic.

I was trying to get him out,” Rice told NBC News, his voice breaking with emotion.

“There was just one person who didn’t get out. It was all I could think to do, was to get the one person who was left., and I unfortunately couldn’t.”

Fire fighters arrived shortly, but they were also unable to make it up to the attic to rescue Smith.

A Hero

Rice said he saw Smith as a hero.

“He definitely saved us. We could have all been in there. It could have been a lot worse than it was,” Rice told NBC.

Rice was grateful to Smith for making sure his sister was safe and sad that Smith couldn’t escape as well.

“He loved her,” Rice said simply. “It’s what he felt to do.

“We all wonder why he didn’t come out right behind her. For some reason he didn’t.”

Smith’s fiancée was taken to the hospital with an injured ankle. She was treated and later released, NBC reported.

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