Passing bicyclist helps disabled woman out of burning trailer

Sunday, December 1, 2013 | 4:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A passing bicyclist helped save a disabled woman from a fire that destroyed a mobile home in Boone County on Saturday afternoon.

The Boone County Fire Protection District responded to a fire at 10230 Route E near Harrisburg shortly before 3:30 p.m., said Doug Westhoff, assistant chief of the fire district.

According to Westhoff, a man was riding his bike along Route E when he saw a fire spreading from a nearby shed and trees toward a single-trailer mobile home.

Lori Olson, the wife of the mobile home's owner, and her brother-in-law, Eric Olson, were inside, Westhoff said.

The cyclist saw Eric Olson attempting to remove Lori Olson, who uses a wheelchair, from the trailer. Westhoff said that the bicyclist stopped and entered the trailer to assist in getting Lori Olson to safety, Westhoff said.

No one was injured during the fire, but the mobile home is a total loss.

Housing options were offered to the family by the American Red Cross, Westhoff said. He does not know what they chose to do.

"We're just lucky we got everyone out," Westhoff said. "This is especially difficult around the holidays when people are supposed to be enjoying family time."

Altogether, 22 emergency personnel and 10 vehicles, including three engines, four tankers, a rescue squad, an ambulance and a rehabilitation crew, responded to the scene.

Arson is not suspected at this point, and the cause of the fire was still under investigation Sunday afternoon, Westhoff said.

However, the owner of the mobile home, Scott Olson, told firefighters that he had conducted a controlled burn the previous day and raised the possibility that some remaining embers caused the fire.

"With the warm weather and the wind, there is certainly a possibility that some embers stuck around and spread," Westhoff said.

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