Wrangell firefighters extinguish a trailer fire on May 16 ,2020. (June Leffler/ KSTK)

A trailer caught on fire Saturday morning in Wrangell’s Panhandle Trailer Park. Neighbors rushed to the scene, rescuing the homeowner before firetrucks had even arrived.

A fire erupted at 10 AM Saturday morning at the home of an 86-year-old man, Norman Canaday. He did escape his trailer, with the help of at least two neighbors, Dan Flickinger and Duke Aitken. 

“I heard a woof, looked out the window and the porch was on fire,” says Flickinger, Canaday’s nearest neighbor. 

He called 911 and went to the burning trailer.

“The first thing you want to do is see if anyone is in there,” Flickinger says.

His other neighbor, Aitken, also arrived on scene.

“A lady named Linda Churchill was down there pointing at the sky crying, and I stopped my truck and ran up here,” he says.

Flickinger says they pounded on the walls and ran to the back of the trailer where they found Canaday. He was standing at his back entrance with the door open.

The drop from the back door to the ground was about three feet, a big jump for someone Canaday’s age. Flickinger says a mattress was laying nearby and they used it to soften his fall.

“Helped him jump on the mattress and picked him up and carried him out of harm’s way,” he says.

neighbors used a nearby discarded mattress to help 86-year-old Norm Canaday out of his burning trailer. (June Leffler/ KSTK)

All of this happened in a few minutes, before Wrangell firefighters arrived.

“That probably saved Norm’s life,” says Fire Chief Tim Buness.

The fire spread through most of the trailer. Buness believes it’s not salvageable. Wrangell Fire Department is still investigating the cause. As of Saturday morning, the department says an electrical issue most likely started the fire.

Wrangell medics transported Canaday to the hospital.