Neighbors rescue man from burning camper

Victim was saved just before explosion

Many of the residents at the Bay Bayou RV Resort said they didn't know the name of the man who's camper burst into flames.

But that didn't stop them from charging into danger, putting their own lives at risk to pull him to safety.

Ella Meacham, 15, was the first to notice an orange glow coming from the camper next door.

"I just ran outside.  Fire!  Fire!" she yelled.  Meacham grabbed a dog that was tied up next to the RV, and sought help anyone who would listen.

Bill Rogerson, 67, said he approached the burning camper and tried to get inside.

"I was able to break the window," Rogerson said.  "But the heat and smoke was so great that when I reached my hand in it was actually burning my hand," he said.

Joanne and Win Wolloff both said they could see the victim inside the RV, barely conscious but still moving.

"I took over as the foreman and yelled 'Get him out now!'" said Joanne Wolloff, 56, who believed they were quickly running out of time.

"Once I saw flame that was it.  I just went into overdrive," Wolloff said.  "It's going to explode.  I knew it was going up.  And nobody seemed to care.  We picked him up quickly and got him out of there."

Marty Wallach, A Bay Bayou resident who came running to the camper while it was still on fire, said he recalled how difficult it was to move the victim from inside.

"I got hold of his pants and drug him out.  He's a very heavy guy," Wallach said.  "Maybe 250, 300 pounds."

The fear of the explosion was soon realized, as a loud bang came from the top portion of the camper.  Fortunately, the rescue was complete.

"Between everybody, it was a great day," Wolloff said.  "This gentleman is living and that's important."

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said the blaze appeared to be accidental, but was still investigating the cause.

The burn victim was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital and was listed in critical condition Saturday night.



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