1 dead, but another escapes Norfolk house fire thanks to neighbor

Norfolk firefighters are working a house fire that took the life of one resident on Sunday night. 

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — One person died and another was taken to the hospital Sunday night after a house fire in Norfolk.

The fire was reported at 8:36 p.m. at 856 35th Street. Arriving crews found heavy fire on the second floor.

Aaron Cooper lives right behind the house that burned and heard popping sounds. Then he saw smoke. Then his quick actions helped one of the people inside escape.

“I went and knocked at the door and I yelled ‘Hey! Anybody in there?’ and a man said ‘I’m in here’. And I said ‘well you gotta get out your house is on fire’. He said he couldn’t find his key.”

Cooper says he believes the door had a keyed deadbolt. So he had to come up with another plan while the flames were coming out of the second floor.

“I tried to kick the door in with my boot, but it kept slipping and slipping, so I looked on the porch and I found a stick. I beat the bottom out  and pulled that guy out.”

But there was still someone else inside.

“He said ‘my uncle’s up there’, and he told the fire department man the same thing,” Cooper told 10 On Your Side.

Norfolk firefighters found the man had died on the second floor. Nextdoor neighbor Marquise Autrey remembers him as someone who sat on the front porch and always said hello.

The Norfolk Fire Department had not released the name of the man who died by late Monday afternoon, but records show it was someone who lived there for more than 30 years, and whose father lived there before him.

Medics took the nephew to Sentara Norfolk Hospital. He was lucky that Cooper was able free him from the burning home.

“I’m just glad somebody made it out of there,” Cooper said.  “I wish both of them would have made it out.”

Crews forced entry into the home and found the deceased on the second floor.

A firefighter was also transported to the hospital to be evaluated for non-life threatening injuries.

Norfolk Fire Rescue Fire Marshals and Norfolk Police Homicide Division and Forensics will be conducting a joint investigation into the cause of the fire.

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.