Woman recounts being rescued during Durant apartment fire

DURANT, Okla. (KXII) -- The Durant woman rescued from her burning apartment Thanksgiving morning is now thanking the first responders that saved her life

Williams thanking firefighter Royce Gaskill. Photo Credit: Dan Pennington

Cindy Williams said she credits two things for her survival: her faith and teamwork.

Without the citizen who called 911, the Durant police officer that spotted her, the firefighter that broke her window to rescue her and her community, she said she and her dog would not have made it out alive.

"Thank you, thank you, I would be dead without you," Cindy Williams said.

As flames ripped through six units at the ParkRidge Apartments in Durant Thanksgiving morning, Cindy Williams stood in her unit without a way to get out.

"They got a lady trapped in the second floor, fire on top of her," Durant Fire Battalion Chief Steve Kelso said.

"I opened the front door and there were just flames coming from both sides," Williams said.

Williams made it to the window and spotted a police officer, so she started waving, yelling for help.

"I could hear him screaming and saying help's on the way, and about that time, I heard sirens," Williams said.

A sound of relief for Williams.

Within seconds, Durant police officers Brandon Mitchell and Shane Walker secured the ladder as firefighter Royce Gaskill climbed up.

"He busted out the window apparently with the policeman's flashlight," Williams said.

"As this is taking place, the other officers are knocking on the windows, and evacuating the people," Kelso said.

A rescue that depended on quick-thinking, trust and teamwork. Durant Fire Battalion Chief Steve Kelso said it's the perfect example of what being a first responder is all about.

"We know what our job is and teamwork is our main objective, not just firefighters, but people in the community pitching in, they're a team with us also," Kelso said.

Williams got to thank firefighter Gaskill in person this past weekend, but she said there are many more first responders and community members she needs to thank.

More than anything, Williams said she hopes her story can highlight the difference that's made when people work together.

"I lost everything I had, but to see these people all come together to work and take care of all these people that needed help, it was amazing," Williams said.

The apartment complex is still collecting donations for the residents of the six units that lost their belongings to the fire. You can bring them to ParkrRidge Apartments during business hours.