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Woman Asleep In Burning Home Said Knocking Passerby Saved Her Life

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - A woman asleep in a burning home says she may have died if it weren't for two strangers knocking on her door.

The fire happened at a home in 300 block of Harrison Avenue in Greensburg on Thursday, dispatchers said. It destroyed one home and heavily damaged another.

Cheryll Chakrabarti and Gary Demus were driving on Harrison Avenue as the fire began to grow and firefighters hadn't arrived yet.

"My focus was there might be someone in there, we need to find out, knock on the door and see if we can get them out," Chakrabarti said.

greensburg-fire
Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Ken Murray

"I didn't think about my safety at the time. I thought about, it's somebody there -- a family there, or kids there," Demus said.

They started beating on the door of the burning home.

"I kept banging and banging and yelling the lady opened up the door and said, 'Who are you?' I said, 'There's a fire next door, get out,'" said Demus.

The woman who had been sleeping on the second floor. Chakrabarti and Demus likely saved her life.

"I'm so grateful. She's my only daughter and I don't know what I'd do without that child and my grandchildren. They're my life. They're all my life," said Tina Underwood, the woman's daughter.

The people living in the home destroyed were in the process of moving out. As for the Underwoods, they say it's the third house fire their daughter has survived.

"Oh my, I'm so grateful that we stopped and I'm glad we stopped because it was the right thing to do and almost anybody would have done it, at least they hope they would have," Chakrabarti said.

The structure of the home on top of the wind made it a difficult job for firefighters. At one point, everyone had to be pulled out, and there's still some concern about the structural integrity of the home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Greensburg's fire chief believes it started in the basement. Being an older balloon frame house, the flames ran up the walls and got into the ceiling.

No one was hurt.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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