Man Who Lost His Own Family To Housefire Rescues Woman From Burning Home

A man who had lost his own family to a housefire has now helped save the life of a woman from a burning home in Rowland, Mass.

Rowley house fire rescue

The captain of the Rowley Fire Department has praised the local man who saved his neighbor from a house fire.

Mark Collum, the Good Samaritan, said that he heard the screams of a woman at about 5 a.m. Sunday. “I heard ‘Fire! Fire!’ I just threw my clothes on and just, out of reaction, saw her in the kitchen milling around,” Collum said Sunday.

“There were flames billowing out the back, smoke filling up the kitchen,” Collum said. He ran into the Wethersfield Street home and was able to get his neighbor, Deb Shanahan, out of the fire. Shanahan was hurt, but her injuries are not believed to be serious.

“I just grabbed her and just took her out,” he said. “I had a little smoke in my lungs, same with her, so we just kind of took her outside and things worked out well. Thank God.”

Rowley Fire Capt. Ron Merry says that crews arrived at the scene after Collum had carried Shanahan out of the burning home and were able to put out the fire. “The story was a neighbor pulled her out, got her out. But still, I had no idea who the neighbor was,” Merry said.

Shanahan escaped the fire with only minor injuries and not have survived if Collum didn’t go into the house to rescue her. “If she was still in there, that would have been a mess,” Merry said when he returned to the scene on Monday.

Collum has been in a situation like this before and has lost his family in a house fire 20 years ago. Merry, who has been a firefighter for more than 45 years, says he has never seen a situation like this. Speaking in light of Collum’s effort in spite of his own tragedy he said, “I don’t know if a lot of people would do that.”

In January 2001, Collum’s wife, Lisa, and their two daughters, 4-year-old Lindsay and 5-month-old Carly died after a fire ripped through their Ipswich home. Lisa Collum and Lindsay Collum were trapped on the third floor of their home.

Lisa Collum dropped Carly Collum out of a third-floor window in an attempt to save her daughter’s life. The infant was flown to New England Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Mark Collum, who is a commercial fisherman, was not home at the time of the fire. He said, “It still resonates in me. But I’m glad things worked out today,” Collum said Sunday.

Merry was one of the firefighters who fought the Ipswich blaze that claimed the lives of Collum’s wife and children 20 years ago. “There’s a side story to the whole thing that’s just ironic. It really is. It kind of set me back,” Merry said.

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services is still investigating the cause of the fire in Shanahan’s home.

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