LEIPERS FORK, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Williamson County grandfather is being hailed a hero after waking his four grandkids, his daughter and his son-in-law and from their Leipers Fork home as it rapidly filled with fire and smoke.
The fire broke out early Friday morning behind the home. Fire investigators say it began in the grill where hot grease got into the walls and roof.
The Russom family was fast asleep, but thankfully, Bekah Russom’s father, who lives 50 yards away in a separate home, was up early and saw a strange glow behind his daughter’s home.
“The Lord woke him. The Lord woke him up. They have electric cars. They both have Teslas. And they have two. And they are sharing one charger. So he woke up and said I am going to charge my Tesla at 4:30 in the morning. He never does that.”
According to Bekah, her father ran to the house, saw the back area already engulfed in flames and began trying to wake the family.
The rear of the home is where Bekah’s two daughters, aged seven and five are fast asleep.
Bekah is also the mother of two boys, ages 12 and ten.
She says if her father wasn’t awake, didn’t notice the flames, and acted heroically, her daughters were only minutes away from burning in their downstairs bedroom.
“That has kept me up every night truly since it happened. I cannot talk about my dad without getting emotional.”
When asked if her father, Jeff Sheets, is her hero, the 33-year-old, the oldest of nine kids herself, became emotional and whispered, “Yes, he is,” and added, “He is the most selfless person you will ever meet. He is incredible.”
Bekah’s husband, Nolan Russom shares home surveillance footage that shows just how dramatic the moment is.
One camera showed the grill, and the fire growing with each passing moment.
The front camera showed 54-year-old Jeff Sheets rushing to the front porch and trying to open the door, but it was locked.
Video showed the barefoot man rushing around the house twice. He was trying to find a way in to warn the family.
At one point, the father and grandpa put his shoulder into the thick door, but it didn’t budge.
Moments later, he picked up a log, and threw it through the glass. He reached in and unlocked the door, finally gaining entry.
On camera you can hear the father yelling for everyone to get up.
Seconds later, you can hear anguished screams of panic, as the senior rushes to the rear bedroom to rescue the two little girls.
“I shot up,” Bekah said. “It’s something I never want to hear again. My dad’s voice. I don’t know if the Lord told me right away, this is a problem. you need to go.”
By this time, Jeff Sheets is waking his two grand daughters. With flames dancing outside their window, Bekah says the girls are chipper and eager to follow grandpa’s lead.
“He came in and said, girls, it is poppa. You gotta wake up. We gotta go. There’s a problem, we got to get outside. They got up and said yes sir. They didn’t ask any questions. and ran outside.”
Bekah says by this time, thick smoke was filling the entire house.
“I woke up my boys and got them out. And then I realized I left the dog in the kennel so I went back in and got the dog out.”
Bekah’s brother Jon is a volunteer fire fighter with the Williamson County Rescue Squad. They, alongside Fairview Fire responded to the blaze.
Investigators say battling the fire was challenging because it is way off the street, up a steep narrow driveway without easy access to a water supply.
Bekah says much of what was happening felt like a dream, until her brother Jon Sheets, the volunteer firefighter came racing toward the house. She told News 2 that is when she broke down and cried.
Bekah says her brother went into the home and rescued one of the girl’s favorite blankets. He also returned with a turtle and a lizard, both of which were alive.
“I’d have that house burn down over and over and over and wake up every morning and have to walk through that grief rather than having to walk through the grief of having to lose one of our family members.”
Bekah laughed when she said, “You always have that thing in your head, if your house caught on fire, what would you grab?”
She paused and pointed at the entry way wall which is covered with soot.
“And I have my great grandfather’s flag from marching band in high school. I always said I’d grab that.”
News 2 quickly interjected; “Did you grab it?”
She laughed, “No. We grabbed nothing. We grabbed our people.”
The family told News 2, they plan to rebuild the farm house. It should take about year. If you are interested in helping the family, you can go to their GoFundMe account here.