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Beckley men recount rescue of elderly siblings

Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero Family mementoes, including a flag and photographs, were damaged in a fire Monday at a home on Teel Road in Beckley.
Register-Herald photo by Rick Barbero
Family mementoes, including a flag and photographs, were damaged in a fire Monday at a home on Teel Road in Beckley.

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Two men who rescued an elderly sister and brother from a house fire in Beckley Monday night shared the details Wednesday with The Register-Herald.

The kitchen of Elsie Worley, 83, and her brother, Jack Reed, located at 407 Teel Road, caught on fire around 7:30 p.m., apparently after Worley had been frying chicken, Beckley Fire Department Capt. Joe Coughlin reported Tuesday.

Worley and Reed were in a separate section of the house, apparently unaware of the flames engulfing the kitchen wing, when Larry Stoumile, 27, of Beckley, was driving by in a car with friends and noticed the flames.

“I was on my way to Harper Road, and we were going to go get something to eat,” said Stoumile. “I stopped at a stop sign and looked to the right of me and seen the house on the left hand side of the street on fire.”

Stoumile said he was surprised to see the flames licking the house.

“I turned and drove in front of the house,” he said. “I didn’t think nothing of it, then, if they was home or if they wasn’t.”

Stoumile said he decided, however, to find out if someone was in the house.

Exiting the car, he asked a friend to go to a neighbor’s house and call 911.

Pushing open the door in the part of the house still untouched by the fire, he said he tried flipping on a light.

The light didn’t work, he reported, and the house was dark and smoky.

“I was yelling ‘Is anybody in the house?’” Stoumile recalled. “I didn’t hear anybody.”

Stoumile, a father of five, went back to his car to get his cellphone, which had a flashlight app.

In the meantime, Worley’s neighbor, Randall Boyd, had happened to glance out of his window to see four-foot flames dancing from the peak of Worley’s roof.

“Something just told me to look outside,” Boyd recalled, adding that he was supposed to be another place that particular evening but had been at home unexpectedly.

Boyd, a corrections officer at Southern Regional Jail and father to two children, told his wife, Wendy, to call 911, and ran over to Worley’s house.

Stoumile and Boyd met on Worley’s property, and Stoumile used his cellphone as a flashlight as the two men pushed through a garage door and entered the burning house.

“There wasn’t no thinking to it,” Stoumile said. “We manned up and went in.

“I was just pushing in to make sure they was OK.”

Boyd tried flipping on a light, but the fire had destroyed the home’s electrical wiring, he recalled.

“I’d been in the house, somewhat, but not the majority of the house, so I didn’t know where everything was,” Boyd explained.

The two men made their way through the darkened, smoky house, shouting Worley’s name, Boyd recalled.

“I heard her in the distance say, ‘Yes!’” Boyd said.

Boyd recalled that both Worley and Reed were “on oxygen” and had oxygen tanks in the house — but he wasn’t sure where the tanks were.

“I didn’t know if it was going to blow up, or what it was going to do,” said Boyd.

They discovered Worley, apparently disoriented, in a living area of the home…

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