Soldier rescues woman and 4 dogs from a burning house

| March 13, 2020

Sgt. Darren Watkins, with the Oklahoma National Guard, saved an elderly woman and her four dogs from a deadly house fire. (Spc. Jessica Todd)

By: Todd South

Sgt. Darren Watkins was starting a shift in his civilian job as a sheriff’s deputy in Wagoner County, Oklahoma, on Feb. 29 after leaving a daddy-daughter dance with his youngest child.

Things started slowly, as they often do. The Oklahoma Army National Guardsman with 2120th Engineer Battalion, 90th Troop Command answered some routine calls and filled out paperwork that night.

Then, at about 4 a.m., as he was wrapping his shift, Watkins was called to a fire in a vacant house. When he arrived, he realized that a neighboring house was also aflame, and there was someone trapped inside.

A man in the driveway alerted Watkins that an elderly widow was in the house and that he couldn’t wake her to get her out. Watkins told the man to seek safety and radioed the 911 dispatch to tell them he was going to try and get inside the home.

“I knew she was in there, and I knew she needed to get out,” Watkins said in an Army statement. “I really wasn’t thinking of anything else.”

Watkins rushed into the home and found that the woman had gone into her kitchen in an attempt to get to her car in the garage. However, a gasoline-filled car in the midst of a house fire poses a unique set of risks.

“I had to actually hold the door closed to where she couldn’t open it and pull her away from the door,” Watkins said in a Guard video about the event. “The firefighters later said if she would have opened the door the fire in the garage would have flashed into the living room and possibly burned both of us.”

The woman was panicking about her four dogs as Watkins tried to get her out of the home. He had to wrap his arms around her and steer her to the exit.

He, the woman who was not identified in the Army statement, and the four dogs luckily made it to safety.

Bravo Zulu, SGT Watkins- damned well done! Read the entire article here: Army Times

Category: Army, Bravo Zulu, Valor

Comments (12)

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  1. Old tanker says:

    Outstanding work there. Well done indeed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hooah! 🙂

  3. Mason says:

    I found video of Sgt Watkin’s heroics.

  4. 26Limabeans says:

    Ya know, most people have the where with all to
    step up and do the right thing but when one puts
    on the uniform they become more aware of the
    duty part of it and that is how we get people
    Like Sgt. Watkins.

  5. The Other Whitey says:

    I have crawled inside quite a few burning houses in my time. It is by nature a rapidly-deteriorating situation that has a very real potential to end with you dying horribly. I don’t fear it, but I have have a healthy respect for it. And I have the utmost respect for anyone who steps up and does it without the benefit of proper training and PPE that I have. This dude’s a badass.

    It also proves that every cop secretly wants to be a firefighter! (Sorry, I have too many cousins who are cops to let that one go! )

    • Nice grab SGT Watkins, and I 100% agree with TOW. So while on the subject, a lot of what is called light weight house/building construction are being put up which puts a FF’S job more in danger of being injured or worse. On LEO’S reaching a fire scene first, some Fire Dept’s are getting together with them and going through a what to and what not to do so as not to further increase and extend the fire/products of combustion, ie, opening an exterior door/window

      • The Other Whitey says:

        There’s lots of videos of well-meaning cops burning houses down because they falsely believed that breaking all the windows would help the situation. Of course, there’s also videos of firefighters (and not just volunteers, either) who ought to know better doing the same thing.

        • And how TOW. I buffed a job that My old Volley Dept had and a member of the engine Co. that I was on was at the scene standing by, and of course he “JUST” had to do something so he grabbed the halligan tool off of the rig and went over to the house and smashed one of the basement windows which of course you know what I am going to say. The side of the house went up in the air about a foot and came down on top of the halligan tool while a member of Engine 1 who was advancing with a line down the stairs to the basement where the origin of the fire was and ended up being blown up to the top of the stairs landing on his SCBA. Of course I took a lot of razzing from members reminding me that I was his in house/company training Officer while in the company from 1977-1982 then continuing training when I switched Depts.1982-2007. I remember commenting about this story a couple of years ago.

          • The Other Whitey says:

            Since lightweight Type-5 construction is the norm in SoCal, backdrafts are about as common as Halley’s Comet. The structures here just aren’t sturdy enough to stay up long enough for one to set up. Unfortunately, this breeds the kind of complacency that leads to a firefighter thinking he can just pop the hatch on a smoke-charged electrical vault and getting blown across the street for his trouble.

    • Mason says:

      At one of our in-services, right after one of the road guys had gone into a burning house and heroically rescued two by kicking out a bedroom window, the captain asked rhetorically why we shouldn’t go into fires. “Because kevlar and polyester melt.” Was my response.

  6. 5th/77th FA says:

    Bravo Zulu SGT Darren Watkins. It’s obvious that those big brass ones you’re carrying didn’t slow you down. Glad you didn’t trip on them.

    For lovers of little old ladies and dogs everywhere…We Salute You!

  7. FuzeVT says:

    Good job, SGT Watkins! You bring honor to my grandfather’s old unit (or the modern remnant, anyway). He served with the 45th Infantry Division during the invasion of Sicily. Or at least he did until a German Machine gunner sent him several tickets a stateside recovery. I actually served with some folks from the 120th Combat Engineers in Taqqadum in 2004. Good guys. They had the Thunderbird on their vehicles (like this Mad Max vehicle seen here: