GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A 69-year-old woman suffered serious burns, and is in critical condition Wednesday night, after a Tuesday night house fire.
The woman, identified to 24 Hour News 8 as Betty Carlson, was rescued from the fire at her home near the intersection of Livingston Avenue and Trowbridge Street NE.
Calvin Johnson, her upstairs neighbor for about 13 years, told 24 Hour News 8 he tried to call Carlson and knocked on her door after he smelled smoke Tuesday night.
"I was at home taking a shower and I started smelling smoke and like flesh, human flesh, and I had a friend over and she said, 'Do you smell that smoke?'" recalled Johnson. "I ran down the stairs, banged on the door, didn't get any response, then I ran back up the stairs and called 911."
"It was very horrifying," said Johnson. "Very horrifying. Scaredest I've ever been."
He said he had just talked to Carlson about a half hour before he smelled the smoke, so he knew she was home.
"So I told them, 'Get somebody out here and get them out here fast because we got an occupied fire, and my landlord is in the house downstairs,'" said Johnson. "I can't even begin to tell you what was really going through my mind."
Johnson said the fire department got there quickly, only to find Carlson passed out in her home.
"I think she may have tried to put that fire out herself. Not knowing where it started from, but knowing Betty, she was trying to put it out herself," said Johnson. "She's a very independent person. She does everything she can for herself. She don't ask anyone to do anything for her unless she just can't do it herself."
Carlson was burned over at least 60% percent of her body and suffered burns to her lungs, 24 Hour News 8 was told.
"Just to see her a few moments earlier like you normally see her, and then to see her laying on the sidewalk with the firemen, it was just unexplainable. The feeling was unexplainable," said Johnson.
"She's just like family to me you know," Johnson went on to say. "I hope that she comes out of this here, you know what I mean. I truly hope she comes out of it, and it's in the hands of God right now. It's not looking good, but it's in the hands of God."
The home looked almost untouched in the light of day Wednesday. It's only under close scrutiny that the signs of Tuesday night's devastating fire are noticeable: Cracked or boarded-up windows and a pile of fire-damaged stuff in the backyard.
"I hope that she comes out of this," said Johnson. "I truly hope she comes out of it. And it's in the hands of God right now. It's not looking good, but it's in the hands of God."
Johnson told 24 Hour News 8 that Carlson's sister drove in from the east side of the state Tuesday evening to be with her sister. Carlson was in critical condition at the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital Burn Unit Wednesday night.
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