Milan lady honored for saving her neighbor's life

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

Residents of the Lamplight Villa in Milan are grateful for the fast actions of one unlikely hero during a fire on September 18 that broke out in one of the apartments.

“It happened so fast,” said Lorraine Watts. She had just gotten home when she heard the alarm. She said she went to check on her neighbor, Marlene Cook, when she saw the flames in the Cook apartment.

Doris Weaver, also a resident at Lamplight Villa, called 911 while Watts went back into the Cook apartment to rescue her friend. The room was engulfed in smoke, which made it necessary for Watts to crawl on the floor as she searched for her friend.

Watts called out to locate Cook and then proceeded to pull her out of the apartment. Once she saw her friend was safe, Watts continued to bang on the neighboring apartments in order to make sure all the residents left the building safely.

The Lamplight Villa Board of Directors presented a plaque to Watts to honor her bravery. “Lorraine went above and beyond the call of duty,” said board member, Tracy Meyer.

According to Meyer, the community pulled together after the tragedy. Residents Doris Weaver and Johanne Graham opened their homes to allow residents to call their families. The Red Cross and the Milan Ladies Auxiliary were on hand to assist in any way needed. Ripley Crossing housed three residents who had no nearby family members.

“The board is proud of how everyone kept their cool and helped each other out,” said Meyer.
Details of what caused the fire is still under investigation. Life at Lamplight Villa has settled into a routine with residents reminded of their buddy list and emergency evacuation procedures.

Lorraine Watts was an unlikely hero during a fire at Lamplight Villa in Milan. Pictured from left, Mike Alloway, Milan Volunteer Fire Department; Bill Bruns, president of the Milan Elderly Housing Board, and Tracy Meyer, secretary of the board, are handing Watts (third from left) a plaque to honor her bravery.