UPDATE: Family thanks Good Samaritan for saving woman from mobile home fire

UNION Parish - UPDATE: [9:30 p.m. 9/20/2017]

Burnt debris is all that remains of Julianne Medina's bedroom, after a fire engulfed part of her home. 

"My great niece ran into our house screaming, 'My momma's dying, my momma's dying'," Medina's Aunt Gail Donald said. "It scared her because of all of the fire and smoke and everything."

Medina is handicapped. Both of her legs have been amputated. 

Family members said she was pinned inside her home, but thanks to a Good Samaritan driving by, Medina made it out alive. 

Authorities said the man was an off-duty firefighter who saw smoke coming from the mother's mobile home, and immediately jumped to save a life. 

"He went into the house and it was just filled with smoke and he got her out of the house and got her little dog and got them into her yard," Donald added.

The man whom we found out is Bill Thurston, a firefighter from the Northeast Union Fire District, then immediately alerted authorities. 

His quick and selfless actions made him a hero to this family. 

"We were so thankful because if it hadn't been for him we wouldn't have known. No one was around. We were in the house and no one was aware of what was happening," Donald said.

Relatives said they want to make it clear that they're thankful Thurston risked his own life, to help save another's. 

"Thank you so much. You went beyond anything we could have imagined. You stayed until the very last to make sure she's ok until the ambulance got here and the firetrucks got here...So it was very much appreciated. Thank you so much," Donald said.

Family members said Medina was not burnt, but she is in a local hospital recovering from smoke inhalation. 

As for Thurston, we still haven't been able to get in touch with him.


A Union Parish firefighter saved a Rocky Branch resident from a mobile home fire Tuesday afternoon. 

On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at approximately 1547 hours, a firefighter from Northeast Union Fire District was traveling through the Rocky Branch community when he observed smoke coming from a residence.

The firefighter, identified as Bill Thurston, quickly alerted Union Parish 911 and Rocky Branch/Crossroads Fire District was then dispatched to the address. Thurston observed fire and smoke coming from the bedroom portion of the mobile home. Thurston then entered the residence and found the occupant, a handicapped individual, to be pinned inside the residence and having difficulty breathing due to heavy smoke. Thurston was able to remove the occupant from the residence and bring them outside to safety.

RBCFD arrived on scene shortly thereafter and administered first aid and oxygen to the patient, who was suffering from smoke inhalation. The patient was transported to the hospital by Pafford EMS Paramedics.

“He was certainly in the right place at the right time and the outcome could have been much worse in this situation”, said Fire Chief Bobby Green, “We are grateful for Firefighter Thurston's willingness to put himself in harm’s way to save a stranger’s life.”

The fire was contained to just one room of the home and was quickly extinguished by firefighters from Rocky Branch/Crossroads and Spencer West/Sterlington Fire Districts.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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