Stranger alerts family their home was on fire

A woman visiting family in Opelousas turned into a hero after she helped save a family’s Christmas presents while also alerting them that their house was on fire.

Justin Lyons said his historic home near downtown Opelousas was having central heater problems the night before Christmas Eve. An HVAC professional went out to the home but couldn’t repair it because the supply stores were closed for the holiday.

As a temporary replacement, Lyons said he put a space heater in the bedroom to keep warm. Before they left for the day, Lyons said he made sure the heater was off and he turned off all the breakers to the 122-year-old home.

“We turned our breakers off and we left for the day. That morning and that night we got an alert on my phone that someone was at my front door and right after that we got the alarm that someone had entered my house,” Lyons recalled. “We were thinking someone broke into our house.”

After seeing a woman on his home’s cameras, Lyons said his mood quickly changed from anger to concern when he realized what was happening.

“We saw a young lady walking inside hollering ‘hello hello’ with the house filled with smoke,” he said. “She was kicking on doors trying to get into the room. Our bedroom was on fire. She was running and screaming and another guy outside the house was running around trying to find a water hose.”

The woman on camera was Jasmine Jackson, a Florida resident whose mother lives two doors down from the Lyons family.

Johnson said she was walking her dogs in the neighborhood when she noticed a fire in the home through a window on the side of the house.

“I could see the fire,” Jackson said. “I kicked down the door and I went in there. I didn’t go through the entire house, but I went through the foyer. All the doors were open except the door down on the end.”

Jackson said she tried to get the door open but she couldn’t. That proved to be for the best because the one door that was closed was the one in the bedroom where the fire started.

She said she was shocked and shaken up when she found out the door she couldn’t open was unlocked.

“Afterward, I started thinking about what could’ve happened if I did get the door open,” she said.

At the time of the fire, Lyons said he was with family in Henderson, so he immediately left to check on the home. He said when he got there, the firefighters were waiting on the water truck because the cold weather hindered the water pressure.

A fireman with the Opelousas Fire Department ran inside and rescued the Christmas presents before the fire destroyed them.

“The lady that kind of blew in the doors is what alerted me,” Lyons said.

Lyons said the fire department had put the fire out, which allowed him to grab sentimental items. However, after he left, the house went back ablaze and the rest of it burned down.

“It was on fire from about midnight until 6 a.m.,” Lyons said. “The roof caved in.”

The Opelousas community has come together to help the Lyons family.

“Complete strangers were willing to help,” Lyons said. “My parents’ house is filled with clothes and toys that people came and delivered. We’ve had strangers donate us money and I’ve told many people we don’t need the money right now. I don’t want to take money if I don’t need it but they were still constantly just sending us money to help us out.”

Jackson said she was there were no injuries and that the Christmas presents were saved.

“I’m just happy nobody was in the house,” she said. “I felt like i had to do something.”

Lyons said his family had been living in the home for about 17 months and the community has proven to be amazing. He said he just for people to pray for them.

“We’re just thankful for everyone and their help,” he said. “All we’re asking for is prayers, nothing more.”

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