Neighbor saves family from house fire


by Whitney Harding

Posted on July 5, 2014 at 11:47 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 6 at 9:03 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS) -- On July 4th people across America are celebrating our independence, but on July 5th this year one Jeffersonville family is celebrating the fact they are all alive – and they can thank one of their neighbors.


“I was just happened to be walking around the neighborhood because I don't sleep a lot and I just see the fire coming out of the top of the house,” said Annabel Lee. She was worried no one was awake in the house, so she rushed up to the front door and started banging as hard as she could to relay the bad news.


The good news? The family inside heard her.


"My husband woke up,” said Sheri Downey-Salesman, “and then he got us all up and we got out of the house in time to watch the flames engulf the upstairs and fall into itself.”


Annabel couldn’t believe how lucky her timing was that she saw that house when she did.


“If I'd been just ten or 15 more minutes later a lot of them wouldn't even be here,” she said.


In the light of day, what’s left of the roof of the house looks like a patchwork quilt of wood, insulation and blue sky.


The entire upstairs is gone. The fire has had to be put out again twice and Sheri and her family are left feeling tattered and empty. 


“I can't think about that right now because I won't be able to get through this,” Sheri said about the memories her family had in that home. “The baby's room ceiling is on the floor -the whole thing, and I'm like, I have to look at that and realize we were in there. The baby and I were in that room.”


Sheri’s son, Shawn, was asleep upstairs when he heard the commotion and saw the smoke. Now, if you look for his room all you see is a big hole.


“It doesn't hit you until the fire trucks drive away and you walk inside the house, you know you're ready to go home and you don't have a home,” he said. 


Still, despite the damage and complete loss of possessions, Sheri refuses to let her world cave in.


"If you can laugh through it and find the positives then you can survive it," she said with a smile. "God made that woman walk down the street and see that or we'd all be gone."


Annabel is just happy that while she wasn’t able to sleep, she is able to help a family keep their most valuable assets: their lives.


“I’m not a hero,” Annabel said. “I was just glad I was at the right place at the right time.”


Sheri and her family would like to thank the people that spent all day today helping them gut their house and clean up what they could. Sheri also said that the group has been very helpful with taking care of her baby and giving clothing donations.


If you would like to help Sheri and her family, an account has been set up for monetary donations:

You can also give other donations by emailing Lynn Wear at: