COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) — While Columbia investigators look for the cause of a suspicious house fire, a 71-year-old who lives next door is thanking a higher power for her survival.

According to Columbia Fire and Rescue, crews responded to the residential fire at approximately 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, in the 1100 block of Woodland Street, just a stone’s throw from the department’s headquarters.

When units arrived at the scene, they reportedly found heavy smoke and flames coming from an abandoned home, with the fire spreading to nearby structures, including another unoccupied home.

As the flames grew, reaching the point where they could be seen from blocks away, calls began flooding into the 911 office. One of those calls came from a woman who recognized that the two homes burning were likely vacant, but the fire was rapidly approaching occupied houses.

“It’s bad,” a 911 caller said. “Houses are next to it with people in it. They are fully engulfed.”

One of the neighboring homes threatened by the early morning blaze belongs to a 71-year-old grandmother of four. She told News 2 she happened to get up around 1:30 a.m. to use the bathroom, but when she heard popping sounds, she went over to the door to find out what was going on.

“It was horrible,” the senior described. “It was really intense, I mean, it was fully engulfed.”

The woman said she was peering at the growing blaze from her front door as the heat caused the siding near her bedroom to melt and fall off the house. Then, two female strangers banged on her door, warning her to get out.

“‘Ma’am, ma’am, get out of your house! This house next door is flaming!'” the senior citizen recalled, adding that she is grateful to the strangers for wanting to help her.

Fire officials also showed their appreciation for the strangers, posting on Facebook, “We are very thankful for the quick actions of good Samaritans who swiftly alerted the resident in the neighboring home where the fire had spread so that she was able to escape and avoid exposure.”

Even though her home of 37 years was badly damaged on the side closest to the blaze, leaving her with a destroyed bedroom and only partial power, this Columbia grandmother said she’s alive because God was watching over her.

“The man upstairs,” the 71-year-old said. “It was like He had His hand between my house and that house because I’m here, I’m here, and if I’d been asleep, I can’t say that.”

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

Meanwhile, Columbia Fire and Rescue said no civilian injuries were reported, but one first responder ended up with non-life-threatening injuries at the scene. However, that firefighter has already been treated and released from Maury Regional Medical Center.

The Columbia Fire Marshal’s Office is currently investigating the cause of the fire, which investigators told News 2 was definitely suspicious. If you have any information about the early morning incident, you are asked to call 931-560-1700.