OZARK COUNTY, Mo. -- A disabled Ozark County woman is counting her blessings, following a house fire this past weekend. Michael Deere shows us how a friendship may have saved her life.
Nearly six days later and smoke is still smoldering here in the remains of Linda Worner's home. Her wheelchair that she used to get around caught fire on Sunday and ultimately led to her house burning down. But thankfully she had a phone call and a trusty neighbor.
"But if he hadn't come, I don't know if I'd be here," Worner said of her neighbor.
Sunday afternoon around 3, Linda Worner was inside her home, in her electric wheelchair.
Suddenly she smelled smoke.
She looked down and the wiring of her wheelchair was shorting out.
So she called her neighbor Boyd Garrison who lives a few miles away.
"I started beating on it with a blanket and the more I beat, the more the flames came up. It was unbelievable," Worner added.
She moved closer to her bed and then her foam mattress caught fire.
"The smoke was so black. It just instantaneously filled the room," she told KY3.
Three of her cats rushed under the bed to hide.
She couldn't get them to come out.
"And at that point I knew I needed to get out. I fortunately have a sliding glass door to the bedroom. And I know that lets more in and makes it worse but it was my only way out. And I crawled," she exclaimed.
She crawled an estimated 15 feet out onto her back deck.
One of her dogs, paralyzed with fear, would not leave the kitchen as the flames started growing.
"I drove up and seen some flames inside one of the rooms. I ran up and opened the door and hollered a couple of times and I didn't hear her or see her. So I ran around the house and she was sitting on the back porch trying to get her animals to come out of the house and she was kind of in a daze I think because I said you've got to get out of here," Garrison explained.
He carried her down some steps and loaded her into his truck and took her away to safety.
She lost the four animals and made it out with only the clothes on her back and her cell phone.
She's had time to think about many things since Sunday.
"One of the things that's hit me in the past few days is that if you have something that you treasure that you're planning to leave to someone, give it to them then," Worner said.
But out of tragedy came a few pictures of Worner, her mother and a former student of hers that Garrison found at the home Friday.
"I can't believe you found these," she exclaimed.
And one thing a fire cannot destroy....a friendship.
"This is my buddy."
Worner is currently living in a cabin on her property. She is heating it with a propane heater.
Neighbors have brought food, water and other essentials.
She is asking for only one thing: a laptop so she can continue writing her novel. It can be used or new.
email KY3 reporter Michael Deere at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.