Houston & Peach

Dramatically rescued from a burning apartment, she meets her heroes for the first time

Nekia Taylor couldn’t help but shed tears Tuesday when she met for the first time the firefighters who dramatically rescued her from her burning apartment.

Taylor, a 32-year-old former Marine field radio operator, was unconscious but breathing when she was pulled out a window of her second-story Lenox Pointe apartment April 9.

“I appreciate you guys,” Taylor told the firefighters assembled at fire headquarters on North Pleasant Hill Road. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you guys.”

Taylor, who was treated for smoke inhalation at an Augusta burn center, gave each of those firefighters a hug as she softly spoke words of gratitude to each.

Warner Robins Fire Department Lt. Greg Fetz, firefighter Ethan Cobb, acting Lt. Travis Keen, Lt. Samuel Robinson and firefighter Gray Clark are credited with courageously going into the fire from a second-floor window they’d reached by climbing a ladder.

“It was like a first instinct,” said Cobb, who’s been with Warner Robins fire more than four years. “But after the fact, it was kind of satisfying to know that we went in there and got her out ... knowing that she went home and everything was alright.”

It was the first ladder rescue for Cobb.

While Cobb was among the five who went into the burning apartment, more than 15 other firefighters also were on scene helping in one capacity or another. Lt. Ben Sisa, for example, was credited with determining which task a firefighter was charged with on the scene.

“Every one of these guys played a big part in everything that happened that day,” Deputy Chief Bobby Wood told Taylor. “But every one of them couldn’t do what those five did that day for you.”

Mayor Randy Toms also stopped in to meet Taylor and shake hands with firefighters. But he said the spotlight should remain on the firefighters.

An American Red Cross worker also stayed in the background. The organization helped arrange temporary housing for 26 people displaced by the same fire. Fire, water and smoke damaged all of the apartments within the same building. Taylor’s apartment was destroyed.

Taylor, who had recently moved to Warner Robins to start a new chapter in life after the Marines, brought along a close friend she had served with. Taylor is the godmother of her friend’s 2-year-old daughter, who was also there. Her friend took pictures.

The day was an emotional one for Taylor.

“They saved my life, and I’m honored to be able to meet them,” she said.

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser