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Truck driver spots Flanagan house fire, alerts woman inside

Truck driver spots Flanagan house fire, alerts woman inside

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FLANAGAN -- The quick actions of an overnight truck driver saved a woman and her dog from a burning home.

No injuries were reported. The single-story house at 504 S. Jackson St. was considered a total loss, said John Zimmerman, chief of the Flanagan-Graymont Fire Protection District.

Zimmerman said an unidentified truck driver on Illinois 116 noticed smoke and fire coming from the home about 2:30 a.m. Monday. He stopped and woke up Sharon Pastori, who escaped along with a dog.

"He was driving and saw the blaze and thought that it was too big to be a bonfire," Pastori said. "He parked the truck along 116 and came pounding on my door. I got up and I was still a bit groggy, and it smelled like something was burning in my oven.

"When I went to answer the door, he said, 'Ma'am, you have to get out of your house,'" she said, adding she is forever thankful for his quick actions.

She said the fire caused the ceiling of her bedroom to cave in.

She and a daughter and two grandchildren, ages 11 and 12, also lived at the house, but they were away for the weekend. The home itself was insured, but the possessions were not.

The family is staying with another family member, and they are looking at other rental properties. She plans to ask for Red Cross assistance.

The home is owned by Dan and Deb Harrison. Deb Harrison said smoke detectors began to blare after Pastori left the house.

"It really hurt to see them tear down a side of the house and to know that there's nothing you can do about it," Pastori said. "This is the first time that this has happened to me, and it happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago. I felt devastated for her and lucky for myself."

"I have to be honest, I still feel lucky because of the truck driver who stopped to help," she said.

Electrical problems are blamed for the fire, which started at the rear of the rental house. Flanagan-Graymont, Cornell and Pontiac fire departments and Duffy Ambulance Service were at the scene. Gridley Fire Department and emergency medical service responded for station coverage.


How to help

The family can use furniture and help with a down payment and rent for a new property; call 815-383-3125. Needed clothes are boys' size 14-16 slim pants and size 16-18 shirt or men's small shirt; girls' size 14 slim pants and size 12-14 tops and dresses; woman's size 18 or 1X-2X tops.

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