by: Greg Suskin Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Passersby kicked in the door of a woman's Ballantyne home Wednesday morning
, as flames burst through her windows on Tamarron Drive.
Curtis Wilson was one of two men trying to force the door and save her.
"I was hitting it with my shoulder, but couldn't get it," Wilson said.
A second man was able to break open the door, but the smoke kept them from getting inside.
"When he got it open smoke came up, and the ceiling had collapsed there. It was burnt, charred, everything," Wilson said.
Firefighters found the woman neighbors identified as Debbie Young on the floor near the front door. She was unconscious.
More than 20 firefighters descended quickly on the house. When they arrived, frightened neighbors were outside.
Eden Kidane was going to the blackened windows, yelling for her neighbor.
"I was trying to call, ‘Debbie come out! Debbie come out!’ But she wouldn't come out," she said through tears.
Most neighbors know Young because she walks her dogs regularly around the neighborhood. She has three dogs, but firefighters said only one of them survived the fire.
Wilson doesn't know her well, but told Channel 9 he wishes he could've helped get her out of the house sooner. Even though he knew the danger was extreme.
"Even though there was smoke, I’m thinking maybe I could've covered my face with my shirt, something," he said.
Firefighters said the house did not appear to have a working smoke detector, as they heard no alarm when they entered the home.
As of late Wednesday, they were still not releasing a cause of the fire, saying it remained under investigation.
The hospital would not release her condition, however neighbors told Channel 9 she'd been taken to the burn center in Chapel Hill.