WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Lynne Clark, from West Springfield, is being hailed as a hero for saving her neighbor, who had set herself on fire outside while smoking on Tuesday, April 5.
Clark had been reading a book and having a coffee in her backyard until she heard loud yelling coming from behind her. The yells had come from an older woman about two yards behind her, she was saying, “I need help, I’m on fire.”
When Clark turned to the adjacent property to the rear, she observed smoke and an elderly woman in a wheelchair on fire. Clark jumped over her backyard fence and rushed over to the woman. She was on a group home property with no sign of anyone else nearby.
An emergency call button was on the elderly woman’s wheelchair but was never pressed. Clark also noticed a cigarette was in her hand when she got there.
The victim in flames told Clark, “I’m on fire, just put it out.” Clark was panicked, but her first instinct was to use her hands and shirt to try and pat out the flames.
Employees from the facility had come out and saw what had taken place. The victim was rushed into the facility and 911 was called.
West Springfield Fire Department spokesperson Anthony Spear said Engine 3 and Medic 2 responded to 670 Morgan Road for a reported person on fire. When members from the West Springfield fire and police showed up at the group home, the fire had already been put out by Clark. “It took a while to put out the fire,” Clark said.
According to a report from the West Springfield Police Department, it is unknown how the incident started but seemed that her coat had caught fire and spread to the rest of her body. The victim suffered from burns to the left side of her chest, face, and head. The police indicated that the woman was partially paralyzed on her left side so she may not have known that the fire had occurred.
The elderly woman Clark saved was taken to a local hospital, according to Spear. A nurse at the group home told Clark that she’d be transferred to a burn center in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Clark shared why she thinks heroic acts are important in society, “there is just so much negativity and hatred in the world, remember to help, instead of complaining,” she said.
After the incident, Clark had told her friend, Lisa Lindsay about it. Lindsay shared with 22News what she thought about her friend’s heroic act. “She is my best friend so I am extremely proud of her but not surprised because that’s just who she is, she doesn’t think twice about helping someone in need. When she told me about it she just said she happened to be there at the right time and place but I believe it was the right person at the time and place that made the difference, and for that, she will always be a hero,” she said.
Clark had received flowers from nurses of the group home for her heroic act. Clark hopes that in the future she will be able to see the woman again in a healthier state. She told 22News, “I would love to actually meet her in a different situation. Just to see she’s ok.”