She was pulled from a burning home in Happy Valley, rescued from a second floor window by firefighters who risked their own lives. Now, Dea Hammons is sharing her story for the first time.
“This is not just my story, this is their story,” Hammons said of the firefighters who saved her. “I mean they were incredible.”
On Sept. 6, Hammons was visiting her best friend and her friend’s sister, asleep in a second-floor bedroom, when she was woken up by smoke alarms.
The other two women – who were also asleep on the second floor – were able to make it out of the house and believed Hammons was behind them.
But by the time she opened the bedroom door, the end of the hallway was already on fire blocking the staircase downstairs.
She retreated back into the bedroom and did her best to avoid the smoke by getting low to the ground. She considered jumping out of the window, but it was too far down.
“I did open a window this far and hollered at my friend and said I can’t get out,” she recalled. “I had this incredible calm come over me, I just kind of accepted it is what it is.”
In that moment, she had no idea her rescuers were moments away.
Crews from Clackamas Fire District #1 arrived on the scene, and two firefighters went in through the front door. They quickly realized they couldn’t get out the same way – the carpet was melting under their boots.
They found Hammons trapped upstairs.
“We were trying to get out the window, and he said 'we’ve got to go now!'” she recalled.
Using a new technique the fire department has been training on since June, the firefighters broke out the window and used a rope system to hang outside.
Hammons was helped out of the window to the hanging firefighter, while another crew lifted up a ladder.
Seconds after they made it out, the bedroom went up in flames.
“This arm’s burnt, got a couple here, and my back – I haven’t seen my back, but the first 30 days I was in a medically induced coma,” Hammons said. “I was never touched by the flame, it was all heat. I think up by the ceiling they said it was 1,100 degrees.”
She spent five weeks in the burn center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, before being transferred to Vibra Specialty Hospital in northeast Portland.
All this time, the firefighters who rescued her have been wondering about her progress.
On Wednesday, they came to the hospital to meet her for the first time since the fire.
“That was wonderful,” Hammons said laughing. “Firemen, or men in general, in uniform are all good looking!”
They brought her a sweatshirt and hat with the fire department logo, and talked about what happened back on that September day.
Hammons has improved enough now she’s going home to the Kansas City area on Friday. While she says she can’t thank the crews enough, she will be sending them some Kansas City barbecue.
“It’s not about just me, it’s about them, and their training and their fire department and working well together,” Hammons told FOX 12. “And if you don’t say anything else – you tell folks that.”
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