GASTONIA, NC (WJZY) - A Gastonia man barely made it out alive from a house fire Monday morning. He was listed in critical condition but FOX 46 Charlotte was told he is now awake and talking.
The homeowner was lifted to Baptist Burn Center in Winston-Salem, but it's thanks to a couple of passerbys that he ever made it out the front door.
Flames were coming out of the bedroom window, and smoke was billowing from the roof when two strangers slammed on the brakes.
"I turned around and stopped my truck in the middle of the road, jumped out to make sure nobody was in it," James Coley said.
Brothers James and Robert Coley said they were on their way to work when they stopped to help the homeowner escape the fire.
"His arm hairs were burnt up, some of his facial hair was burnt up...black all over from the smoke. He couldn't breathe too well. We sat him down, got him talking to us, and still don't know the guy's name," James Coley said.
It turns out the man they helped save was 67-year-old George Clouse. Not long after, his estranged wife and daughter-in-law arrived at the home.
"Just a shock. Just a shock," Brenda said.
The family told FOX 46 Charlotte that the fire might be more than just an accident, based on what Clouse said to his rescuers.
"He told them he started the fire. He told them he started it," Brenda explained.
The Gaston County Fire Marshal said it's too early to tell exactly what or who could have caused the fire.
One thing is for sure - the two brothers helped save a life.
"I thanked them for getting him out of the house. I'm thankful he's all right," Brenda said.
"I'd like for somebody to help me out if I were in that situation. It's always good to be a concerned citizen," James Coley said.
Firefighters extinguished heavy fire coming from the bedroom in ten minutes. An estimated $20,000 in damages was caused by the fire.
The Gaston County Fire Investigations Task Force is investigating the cause.