Daycare House Fire Heroes Honored

March 4, 2013

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012On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, the Calvert Board of County Commissioners paid tribute to citizens, who were instrumental in the saving of lives in a house fire that was Norma Jean’s Daycare. Each of the individuals honored, played a pivotal role on the morning of January 26, 2013 around 9:20 am.

Edie Singleton and her granddaughter, Elle Wright,  were on their way to Prince Frederick on St. Leonard Road. As she passed Norma Jean’s Daycare, she noticed smoke coming out of the eaves. She backed her car up and drove up the driveway to the house. Thinking no one was home, she decided to bang on the garage door anyway to alert anyone inside. She then proceeded to the front door, found it open, knocked and yelled “the house is on fire”. The owner, Norma Jean Welch-Williams, came to the door with her son, Michael Jay Williams. Two other citizens had arrived on the scene, and Edie invited Norma Jean and her son to sit in her vehicle to stay warm.

At the same time, Kenneth Fox was driving to Prince Frederick, and as he passed Norma Jean’s Daycare, saw white smoke pouring out both gable ends of the attic and around the chimney. Fox made a U-turn and dialed 911. The 911 operator said another call had been received regarding the fire. He told the operator he was unable to confirm the address. He then ran towards the front door. At the same time, another citizen Richard Nukolczak, was arriving at the door, where Edie was yelling for the family to get out. As the mother came out, she mentioned their dog was inside the laundry room and asked if he could also get her keys and purse. Kenneth went in to look for the dog and anything he could grab. He opened the interior garage door and saw flames around the wall of the chimney. He found some coats, shoes and her keys but not the dog. He went out and handed the items to Norma Jean and asked where the laundry room was located. This time Richard joined him and they found the dog but no purse. They did find a cell phone but the smoke had gotten so bad, it was hard to breathe and see, so they retreated outside. Kenneth had been a member of the Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department during the 1990’s but left due to work and family demands. After this incident, he decided to join the St. Leonard Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad.

Richard Nukolczak was on his way that morning to a 9:30 am appointment. He was running late, which was not like him. Richard usually took Route 4 but for some unknown reason he took the back road. He thought about turning around and heading back, but he didn’t.  About a mile and a half on St. Leonard Road, he noticed a house with white smoke coming out of the vents and soffit. Realizing the house was on fire, he called 911. He turned around and headed up the driveway, with another car following behind. Still on the phone with 911, he kicked in the door of the garage and could see the fire in the roof. He went in with Kenneth and they found the dog, hiding in the laundry room. Making another sweep of the house looking for anyone else, the smoke detector finally went off. Richard and Kenneth decided they needed to get out of the house due to the smoke and within two minutes of getting out, flames engulfed the house.

Due to the actions of these citizens, everyone got out safely and there were no injuries. The house and its contents were a total loss as well as several vehicles. During the ceremony to honor these citizens, Norma Jean and her son presented Edie Singleton with a bouquet of flowers and thanked all of them for their actions at the fire.

Thank you to these citizens who took the time with selfless acts of kindness towards fellow human beings.
Margit Miller / Staff Writer / Editor

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