Toddler saved from fire

Two dogs perish in Sunday morning blaze
Mar. 19, 2013 @ 07:49 AM

A man awoke Sunday to see flames coming from the end of the bed where he, his wife and their 3-year-old great-grandson were sleeping. He woke them, and they were able to escape before the fire consumed the house.

But the boy's mother didn't hear about the escape, only the fire.

Amanda Sanders was frantic for her son, Nicholas, who was spending the weekend at his great-grandparents’ house. When someone called to tell her the house was on fire, she said, “I’m thinking, my son’s in a house burning, and I can’t get to him."

The fire at 1628 Hayes Place, owned by 67-year-old Roger and Barbara Sanders, started around 9:15 a.m. Sunday in a back bedroom, possibly from an overloaded extension cord, Lenoir Fire Capt. Sam Smith said.

After learning of the fire, Amanda Sanders and her husband, J.R., raced to the scene from their house on Clark’s Chapel Road, about five miles away. J.R. Sanders, Roger Sanders' grandson, said the drive seemed to last an eternity.

“I drove about a million miles an hour,” he said.

They could see smoke as they neared the house. Then they saw flames. Amanda was on the phone with her mother-in-law, Tammy Williams, who was outside the burning house telling her what was happening. But Williams hadn't said that she already had seen Barbara Sanders emerge from the burning house holding Nicholas, with Roger Sanders right behind her.

By the time J.R. and Amanda Sanders arrived, Nicholas was safe in the house next door. Amanda ran inside and grabbed him.

Two family dogs, a 12-year-old feist named Peanut and a 7-year-old Chihuahua named Little Bit, died of smoke inhalation.

Roger Sanders II, who lives in a house nearby, was going through his parents' burned house Monday to see if there was anything to be salvaged. He had arrived at the house Sunday long after the fire started.

“By the time I got home, it was done,” Sanders said of the little one-story house he grew up in. “They lost basically everything. I’m going to clean it out and see what the structural damage was, but they have nothing left.”

As he made his way through the rubble on Monday, he found a fishing pole that Roger Sanders Sr. had bought Nicholas for the weekend. Nicholas got to use it just once, on Saturday. He also found the electrical heater that was beside Nicholas' bed. Charred pieces of metal and melted plastic that once were a flat-screen TV were near the front wall of the house.

Damages were estimated at $40,000, Smith said.

“The house can be replaced, but you can’t replace a life,” Sanders said.