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Life-saving rescues earn valor awards for Macon-Bibb and Warner Robins firefighters

Fire chief describes rescue at burning Macon house

Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins describes the rescue at a Friday house fire on Montpelier Avenue.
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Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins describes the rescue at a Friday house fire on Montpelier Avenue.

A Macon man and a Warner Robins woman owe their lives to firefighters.

Daring and dramatic rescues this spring pulled them from deadly fires with little time to spare.

On May 19, flames were shooting out the sides of Eddie Jacobs’ home when firefighters arrived at 2511 Montpelier Ave. in Macon.

As crews arrived, family members were waving at firefighters to let them know they believed two elderly people were still inside at about 4:30 p.m. on a warm Friday afternoon, Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins recalled recently.

Thick smoke streamed out of 1936 house as firefighters searched through the 1,600-square-foot, partially brick house.

“There was a lot of fire going on in this house and they had to search,” Riggins said. “They made a valiant effort to find Mr. Eddie Jacobs and they did.”

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Macon-Bibb County firefighters rescued Eddie Jacobs from a blazing house at 2511 Montpelier Ave. May 19. WOODY MARSHALL wmarshall@macon.com

Jacobs had nearly succumbed to the smoke when paramedics immediately started resuscitating him.

“I just think that those guys did a very gallant effort trying to find him because the conditions were dire,” Riggins said.

Jacobs was the only one inside, his sister was away, firefighters later learned.

In Warner Robins on April 9, Nekia Taylor was on the phone with 911 as a fire was consuming her unit at Lenox Pointe Apartments on Karl Drive.

“Don’t let me die... don’t let me die,” she pleaded with the dispatcher as she huddled in a back room with her puppy.

When firefighters arrived, flames were already devouring the attic.

Warner Robins Fire Chief Ross Moulton said it was a “very close” call.

Crews methodically and systematically worked to determine where Taylor was in the burning building.

“They just did amazing, a textbook use of strategy,” he said.

They placed the ladder, broke the window and “went in at the perfect place.”

Taylor already was having trouble breathing.

“There was fire overhead and they knocked the fire back,” Moulton said. “They were able to locate her immediately.”

Both Moulton and Riggins watched as their firefighters were honored with valor awards at the Georgia State Firefighters Association Conference in Athens in August.

Crews from all over the state were nominated, but only Macon and Warner Robins were recognized.

Warner Robins fire lieutenants Ben Sisa, Sam Robinson, Greg Fetz, engineer Travis Keen and firefighters Gray Clark and Ethan Cobb received plaques.

Macon-Bibb fire sargeants Matthew Couey, Jason Harper, corporals Kendall Brown, Anthony Collins, Brent Kent, Ronald Pryor and firefighters Willie Harris, Dion Love, Joshua Mitchell, Jacob Potts, Thomas Pullen and Travis Touhy also received valor awards.

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“These are some young officers and they did a Herculean effort,” Riggins proudly said.

After spending time at the Augusta Burn Center, Jacobs is back in Macon living in an apartment with his sister, Macon-Bibb Fire investigator Lt. Ben Gleaton said.

Both Riggins and Moulton cited extensive training with giving firefighters the skills to save the lives of Jacobs and Taylor.

A few days after the fire, the tearful Warner Robins woman reunited with the firefighters who saved her life.

Moulton said seeing that woman alive meant more to them than any award.

“That was their reward, when she came back to the station. It was just awesome.”

Warner Robins firefighters dramatically rescued Nekia Taylor from her burning apartment April 9, 2017.

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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