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Surviving an Inferno

Lonnie and William Langsford

Family Escapes Disaster in Caledonia
At 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, District 1 Volunteer firefighters responded to a burning home on Wiley Rd. The trailer,
home of William (83) Lonnie (41) and Corey (15) Langford, was fully engulfed by the time responders arrived at the scene.

William and Lonnie Langford escaped the blaze with their lives, though not completely unscathed (Corey was not at home when disaster struck). William suffered from smoke inhalation, while Lonnie was inflicted with burns and severe lacerations.

While the men were tended to in a nearby ambulance, District 1 Volunteers battled the inferno in an attempt to prevent the fire from spreading. [A short time later, District 2 Volunteers also arrived at the fire to assist with the fight. – JD] While they concentrated their water streams on the trailer, a tongue of fire licked out at the carport, igniting the structure. One of the firehoses was turned on the carport, in an effort to stave off the flames. Inside the carport was William’s Ford F-150. Within moments, the roof collapsed on the truck, catching the vehicle on fire. It took only a few minutes for the truck the be lost in the blaze.

Behind the home, roughly 10 feet away, sat a double-wide trailer. Though the flames from the front trailer never touched the double-wide, the extreme heat of the burning home charred and ignited the flammable materials inside the second building. Though firefighters were initially concerned for any occupants of the second trailer, they were informed that the building was used primarily for storage, and that no one was inside.

While firefighters fought the fires, there were a number of small explosions inside the front trailer. The blasts, which they originally believed to be propane tanks, were the result of Lonnie’s spare oxygen tanks rupturing. (He keeps an oxygen tank at his side daily to assist with breathing issues.) Lonnie told the Packet that before he got into the waiting ambulance, he saw one of the tanks blow a nearly eight-foot-wide hole in his bedroom wall.
Within half an hour, both trailers, the carport and William’s truck were in ruins.

William and Lonnie Langford survived the ordeal by pure luck. Both men were asleep in their bedrooms (Lonnie in the front bedroom and William in the back bedroom) when they were both awakened by the sound of fire ripping through the center portion of the home.

William said he was roused by the popping and crashing sounds as the flames destroyed the kitchen. He exited his bedroom and was confronted with a wall of flame as the kitchen and dining area were consumed. He quickly escaped through the back door of the trailer, but once outside, had to sit down at the foot of the rear steps after inhaling smoke during his exodus.

Lonnie awoke in his bedroom by the noise and heat as the fire destroyed the nearby living room. As his room was completely cut off by the fire, Lonnie was forced to escape through his window. After smashing the glass from the frame, Lonnie climbed out, severely cutting his right hand and burning both hands. Falling from the window, he hit his head on the iron trailer tongue below. Lonnie regained his feet and went looking for his father, who had just made it out the back door.

William ran between the trailers to safety, dodging a fountain of fire as it shot out the living room window. Both men then fled to safety near the edge of Wiley Rd. Lonnie’s sister, Bonnie (who lives next door), was alerted to the fire and ran over to find the men as she called 911.

Monday, the survivors met with the Packet at the ruins of their home.

Lonnie told the Packet, “We didn’t even realize until we were out here waiting for the firefighters that were were both in our f***in’ underwear! All our clothes, everything we had, was in that fire. Everything we’re wearing was bought for us.”
William, Lonnie and Corey are staying next door with Bonnie in the aftermath of the disaster.

“Man, it’s a bad feeling when you wake up and you have nothing.” Lonnie stands just feet from where his bedroom once sat. “I had a lot of good stuff. Everything burned up. I don’t even have my combat boots. I’m wearing some damn Walmart shoes.”
Lonnie says he and his dad randomly think of things that are gone, adding to the pain.

After crawling through the br

The window that Lonnie crawled out.

oken window, Lonnie required more than 15 stitches in his right hand alone. His fingers were burned, leaving blisters across his knuckles and removing the skin from three fingertips. But, he agrees that, “It’s better than the alternative.”

The Langsfords lost everything they had in this tragic fire. The Packet asks our readers to help out the family if you can. Their clothing sizes are listed below. [Corey recently bought clothes for school, but they were in the house when the fire started. – JD] Anyone offering help can call Bonnie at 662-356-0278.

Shirt – Extra Large
Pants – 46/32
Shoes – 10.5 W
Coat – Extra Large or 48” Chest

Shirt – Large
Pants – 30/32
Shoes – 9.5
Coat – Large

Shirt – Large
Pants – 30/32
Shoes – 11
Coat – Large


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