Family of Richmond woman saved from burning home thanks ‘heroic’ neighbor who pulled her to safety


RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – One family is calling a neighbor a hero after he busted down a door and pulled a woman to safety as her home went up in flames Saturday afternoon on Richmond’s east end.

A melted back porch, seared furniture and burnt belongings are strewn everywhere after the house on Spotsylvania Street caught on fire Saturday around 2 p.m. It’s a home that Arika Phillips said held decades of memories.

“Birthday parties, climbed trees, took bubble baths, locked myself in different rooms, I mean, you know, this house is the first house, one of the first houses, I’ve ever known,” Phillips told 8News.

Phillips said her mom, who is unable to walk, was inside when the fire happened. She’s thankful for her neighbor, Curtis Bassfield, was able to save her mom from the burning home.

“How heroic is that? For him to just bust through the door. I mean you’re talking flames coming up and he knew my mother was in there and knew she couldn’t get out and he just acted,” Phillips said.

Bassfield said he’s lived just doors down from the family for more than 60 years and wanted to help his friend when he saw she was in danger.

“God gave me the strength to kick that door down. I didn’t know how I was going to kick that door down,” Bassfield told Phillips at a heartwarming reunion. 8News crews were there when Phillips reunited with Bassfield, and cameras were rolling as she thanked him for saving her mother’s life.

The family said that one dog was able to make it out alive as well.

A large part of the back of the house is melted away after this house on Spotsylvania Street went up in flames. (Photo: 8News reporter Sabrina Shutters)

Philips is still processing the reality that the house her grandmother built is now unsafe to live in. Along with her mom and brothers who live with her, Leonard and Carlton Brown, the family is left with nothing just days before Christmas.

The brothers weren’t home when the fire started but one described how he learned about the blaze.

“Somebody rode down and said, ‘Your house is on fire!’ So when I got here fire trucks were here. They were coming in when I was coming in. And the back was flaming,” Leonard Brown described.

Carlton Brown said he thanks God Phillips’ mom was sitting in a chair safely outside away from the burning home when he arrived after hearing about what happened.

“I was like, woah,” he told 8News. “God was right on time with that!”

Carlton Brown said Bassfield told him had he not got there two minutes later, she’d be dead.

One Richmond firefighter got a minor ankle injury while responding to the blaze and the cause of the fire is still under investigtaion.

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