By Jessie Burchette
Nellie Oglesby heard something popping and crackling in her kitchen around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Her husband, Perman, had been cooking supper, but had left to run to the store.
Suddenly, her 324 S. Caldwell St. home filled with smoke and flames.
She got down on the floor and crawled on hands and knees to the front door.
Just as she got out, a City of Monroe Fire Department Engine pulled up.
Someone yelled, “Your hair is on fire!”
Oglesby was so happy to see the wave of firefighters and equipment coming to save her home, she hadn’t noticed.
Fire departments from High Point, Charlotte, Unionville, Rock Ridge and Mooresville responded to the fire with four engines and two ladder trucks.
Departments from outside Rowan County have been covering the city fire stations since the deaths of Salisbury firefighters Justin Monroe and Victor Isler in a Friday morning fire at Salisbury Millwork.
One of the fire departments responding to Caldwell Street came from Lyerly Funeral Home, where visitation for Isler was ending.”This is exciting. It’s inspirational to see all these fire departments here. They’re from everywhere,” said Fair Butler, a Caldwell Street neighbor.
Other neighbors and friends of the Oglesby’s also praised the firefighters.
“This is something, given all they are dealing with,” neighbor Dee Dee Wright said as she looked up and down the street filled with fire trucks.
Firefighters who had never worked a fire together before pulled together as a team, with a Concord battalion chief serving as incident commander.
Capt. Rob Brisley, a Charlotte Fire Department public information officer assisting Salisbury, said firefighters encountered heavy smoke coming from the front of the one story house when they arrived. Flames were visible at the rear of the home.
Monroe firefighters pulled a hose in the front door to attack the fire in the kitchen area.
The fire was extinguished within 10 minutes.
Brisley said fire damage was confined to the kitchen area, with smoke damage throughout the rest of the house.
Food left cooking on the stove started the fire, he said.
“Unfortunately, they won’t be able to stay in it,” Brisley said of the residents. The house can be repaired, he added.
Nellie Oglesby sat on the front bumper of a Charlotte fire truck, surrounded by friends and neighbors, and counted herself lucky. She had a singed patch of hair, but she had made it out alive. And her home of 20 years was still standing.
Terri Ferguson, an East Spencer firefighter, was driving through the area when she spotted smoke. Knowing several residents in the area, she stopped to check, and stayed to support Nellie Oglesby.
A Rowan EMS paramedic checked Oglesby at the scene, but she didn’t require transport.
Fire officials planned to contact the Red Cross to assist the family.
As 25 or more firefighters turned out for the house fire, hundreds were attending the visitation for 19-year-old Justin Monroe at Miller’s Ferry Fire Department on Long Ferry Road, where he was a volunteer.
More fire departments from around the region will be in the county today to man stations, allowing local firefighters to attend a funeral service for Monroe and Isler.
By Jessie Burchette