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Deputies rescue crippled homeowner from fire

ADAMS COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- A desperate call for help in the early morning hours sends brave deputies and firefighters scrambling to rescue an elderly man and woman.

Quick action by crews in Adams County early Monday morning meant the difference between life and death for Elford and Margaret Huff.  The Huff's home on State Route-247 just outside West Union caught fire shortly before 2 a.m. with snow and ice making even emergency response treacherous.  But that didn't stop anyone.

This is a story about how right place right time can turn into a lifesaver.  Fortunately when the 911 call came into the Adams County Sheriff's Office Sunday night there were two deputies at the sheriff's office in West Union.  Also fortunate, sitting outside was a hummer.

You could hear the desperation in Margaret Huff's voice on the phone, "Yes this is Margaret Huff at 5175 I have a fire burning like mad it is all over my old house. It's a very old house...south of town...I have an invalid in here. What am I going to do?"

Before the call was finished two deputies, Sgt. Richard Phillips and Michael Mills were flying down the treacherous winding road in the Humvee getting to the old house just five minutes after the call came in.  Charging into the blazing home they pulled 85-year-old Elford Huff out of the home, bed and all, because he couldn't walk.

West Union Fire Chief Jerry Kirker told us, "The man by the time that we got there, I don't know what their time frame was but it had to be a lot quicker than what the squad was of getting him out. The deputies really put their life in danger to try and get the gentleman out of the house."

Video shot by the Chief Deputy shows the entire home was burning when emergency crews arrived.   Originally built in 1878 the home went up like tinder, making things more difficult to get to the house.  Rescue crews had to make their way across a small covered bridge; a feat that meant they could use only their smallest vehicles.

With no hydrants in the area firefighters had to pull a fire hose 300 feet from their tankers to try and battle the flames.  They hauled in and pumped 60,000 gallons of water at the inferno.  In the end one trucks' pump even froze and they had to trade out trucks.

With nothing left Monday but still smoldering ruins, deputies and firefighters know at least the homeowners made it out safely.

Elford Huff and his wife Margaret were treated and released from a nearby hospital.  The red cross is helping them with a place to stay.  Chief Kirker says his small, volunteer fire department has made 82 fire runs just since the first of the year.

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