Get to Know: Eric ClantonLayne Cameron
Get to Know:
Start Date: 2020
Eric Clanton still doesn’t know why he drove a different way home on that November afternoon. However, there’s an 81-year-old lady who’s sure glad he did.
Eric has been a volunteer fireman since he was 18. He has the training and awareness to deal with emergencies. So, when he was wandering home from work, he took backroads rather than the interstate. That’s when he saw the smoke.
“My first thought was that they sure are burning leaves close to their house,” Eric said. “As I got closer, I saw that it was the house, not leaves, that was on fire.”
Eric called 911 and reported the house fire. Since there was no car or tire tracks in the driveway, he reported that nobody was home. As the fire grew, he walked around the house hoping the fire department would arrive soon.
As he circled the house, small windows began popping. Soon thereafter, the large kitchen window blew out. As smoke bellowed out, he was startled to see someone standing near the stove.
“I immediately went in through the back door and saw her standing there not moving,” Eric said. “She was in shock and staring at the flames climbing up her walls.”
He told her that they needed to get out of the house now. “She said that she couldn’t walk well, she didn’t have her shoes, and that she needed to find her cat first,” Eric remembers. “That’s when I said that none of that matters; I really need to get you out of here.”
Eric scooped up the small woman and carried her to his truck. He drove to a neighbor’s house as the flames fully engulfed the structure. The lady lived, but her house was a total loss.
Like many first responders, Eric is uncomfortable with the recognition he’s now receiving. He’s been awarded honors from the State Fire Marshal, the Advance Chamber of Commerce, and he’s being nominated for others.
“Honestly, I just did what I’ve been trained to do,” Eric said. “I would’ve felt a whole lot worse had I just driven by the house and done nothing and found out later that she had died in the fire.”
The honor that means the most to Eric, though, was bestowed by the lady he saved, who now calls him her guardian angel.