ST. PETERSBURG — A man celebrating his birthday alone narrowly escaped a fire after another man pulled him to safety, authorities said.
Oscar Jenkins, who turned 76 on Monday, had put a pan of macaroni and cheese on the stove, then fallen asleep on his recliner in room 211 of Arlington Arbor Affordable Senior Apartments. The food caught fire, said spokesman Lt. Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.
Jerome Williams, who was visiting his mother in room 212, smelled smoke and heard an alarm shortly before 9 p.m.
"It smelled like fire, or like wire being burned," said Williams, 45.
Williams entered Jenkins' apartment to find it engulfed in smoke and drenched by the unit's sprinkler system. At first, he could not see Jenkins or tell where the fire was coming from.
Then he spotted the man on his recliner, asleep.
"He had something on the stove, there was smoke billowing out," said Williams, who said his Army training kicked in next. "I had to make a decision to go get him first."
Williams awakened Jenkins and got him to Barbara Williams' unit next door. As rescuers arrived at the scene, another neighbor made Jenkins a cup of coffee.
Jenkins was treated at the scene and released. No other units were damaged, Granata said.