Port St. Joe resident rescues family from burning house

Alex Van Zant

Alex Van Zant rescued the Heath family from their Port St. Joe home when the oven caught on fire.

Special to The Star
Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 09:33 AM.

Some folks spend their Friday nights hanging out with friends or watching a movie. Alex Van Zant spent a recent Friday pulling the Heath family from their burning Port St. Joe home.

Around 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, Van Zant drove by the Heath household on Madison Avenue and noticed smoke coming out through the front door. A friend of the family, he stopped his car to ensure that everything and everyone was okay.

As Van Zant approached the house he saw James Heath, Sr. run inside with the garden hose and knew that the family was in trouble. He headed toward the front door and called inside as smoke billowed out.

Betty Heath was just inside the door but the smoke was thick and she appeared turned around. Van Zant reached in and pulled her to safety.

After James, Sr. sprayed water on the fire, the flames spread further, igniting his hair and burning his arms. The Heath’s son, James, Jr. was also in the house and was awakened by the shouts of his parents.

He rushed into the kitchen and attempted to put the lid on a boiler but the flames were too high. Both men suffered second degree burns in the blaze.

After getting Betty to safety, Van Zant got down on his hands and knees and went further into the house to search for the other men.

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