WAGONER COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A Wagoner County deputy who is also an Oklahoma Army National Guardsman is speaking out after he saved an elderly woman and her dogs from a house fire last month.
On the evening of Feb. 28, Sgt. Darren Watkins, a soldier with the 2120th Engineer Company, 120th Engineer Battalion, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard, started his shift as a deputy after a daddy-daughter dance with his youngest child.
Towards the end of Watkins’ shift, at approximately 4 a.m., he was dispatched to a fire at a vacant house.
When he arrived at the scene, he found the main threat to be at a neighboring house, which was also on fire and occupied by an elderly woman.
“I knew she was in there, and I knew she needed to get out,” Watkins said. “I really wasn’t thinking of anything else.”
Watkins entered the home and found the woman.
After attempting to collect photos of her family and other belongings, Watkins began leading her toward the safest exit. She then tried to get to her vehicle through the garage, where the fire was the most intense.
“I had to hold the door closed, pull her away from the door leading to the garage,” Watkins said. “The firefighters later said if she would have opened that door, the fire in the garage would have flashed into the living room and possibly burned both of us.”
The woman expressed concern about her four dogs, and Watkins assured the woman they needed to get to a safer location first.
“He then firmly wrapped his arms around the woman and steered her toward the safest exit,” states a release from Oklahoma Army National Guard.
Watkins, the woman, and her dogs made it out of the burning house just in time.
“As we walked a safe distance away, we heard the garage explode behind us,” Watkins said.
Watkins’ father is a firefighter and says he knew he needed to protect those inside even if it meant injury to himself.
“I have had some crazy calls in the past, but this was probably the craziest with the best outcome,” Watkins said. “She did lose her house, but we were able to get her out of the residence with her dogs.”