Michael Davis was asleep in his bed as fire raged overhead in the attic of his boyhood home.
Just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Jalyn Pauldo, 21, was just getting home from work at Perdue when he noticed smoke pouring out of the roof of the Davis house at 467 Pittman Street.
“I saw black smoke coming from the house and I started hearing some ‘tick’ noises and I said ‘Uh-oh.’ By that time it was coming out of the house,” Pauldo said of the flames.
He ran to Davis’ bedroom and started banging on the window, then went to the front and began kicking in the door.
Davis, 65, awoke to heavy smoke in his room.
He looked for a way out and contemplated going through the window as he looked for the blaze that was already devouring the attic.
“It was hidden right up in the center part in the loft and then it blazed up and went this way and that way,” Davis said.
His brothers, Charlie and Leonard Davis, also in their 60s, were in the back of the wood-frame house less than a block west of Broadway just south of Eisenhower Parkway.
“All I know is my brother and them were kicking up noise up there in the front and I went up there to see and the house was already on fire,” Leonard Davis said, while wrapped in a blanket in the driver’s side of a Chevrolet Suburban where they spent the night.
Charlie Davis was wearing a hooded winter coat as he rested in the front passenger seat and talked about how they escaped the flames.
“I looked up in (Michael’s) room and that’s when I seen the fire,” Charlie Davis said.
Michael Davis saw a clear path to the front door and made a run for it.
“I’d seen a clearance that way and my brothers said, ‘Come on man,’ and we all went out that way,” he said.
When Macon-Bibb County firefighters made it to the house, the fire was lighting up the night sky.
“When they called the fire out, they gave it out as an attic fire,” Batallion Chief Tim Johnson said. “It was already going pretty good. It was definitely burning up high.”
The 1933 house where the brothers and their sisters were raised burned intensely.
“It was kind of a tough one to put out. A lot of fat lighter,” Johnson said.
Macon-Bibb County fire investigator Sgt. Steve Wesson confirmed the blaze began in the attic.
“Possibly an electrical fire, but it’s still under investigation,” Wesson said.
Firefighters praised Pauldo’s efforts to alert the Davises to the threat as the flames ripped through the roof.
“That one could have gotten ugly because it was right over them,” Wesson said.
As Michael Davis gathered what he could salvage out of the embers, he looked at how the roof had collapsed into his bedroom.
“A few minutes later, we wouldn’t have got out, at least I wouldn’t have cause I would have been trapped under all that stuff,” he said.
Pauldo had a heavy heart as he looked at the burned out home across from his.
“It’s a sad moment. Usually come out every morning and see the house, you know, together. The house has been here for a while so it’s a lot of memories down the drain,” he said. “Everything will work out though.”
Michael Davis pointed to the heavens as he thought about what Pauldo had done.
“He’s a lifesaver,” he said. “It was too close.”
Pauldo has had a little time to reflect.
“It felt good to save them,” he said as he looked at the front of the house.
The American Red Cross has offered assistance and family members are on their way from out of town.
“We’re going to wait for the rest of our folks to come down and figure out what we’re going to do after that,” Leonard Davis said.
On the front window of the home place, a light green plaque of a house with three pink hearts on it was still hanging where Davis’ mother put it before she died in 2014.
That and a few pieces of wooden porch furniture were about the only things they could salvage.
Michael Davis, a U.S. Air Force veteran, noticed the top of his flag pole had melted, but the star-spangled banner that always hangs on the house was pretty much unscathed.
“It’s a little dirty, but I can wash that,” he said.