'A lot of nerve ... a lot of courage'

Paper carrier puts life on the line to pull child from fire

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khelms@starhq.com
Tim Chambers says he's no hero, but according to Carter County Sheriff John Henson, two people, including a 9-year-old boy, owe their lives to Chambers' selfless action.
Around 3 a.m. Sunday, Chambers was working his second job -- delivering newspapers for the Johnson City Press to help pay his son's way through college -- when he heard a woman scream.
"I thought they were just hollering at me driving down the road, so I just pulled on. I went about 200 yards and turned around and looked, and I saw the fire coming out the windows" of a double-wide mobile home at 544 Garrison Hollow Road. "I drove the car back and pulled it up there right in front of it and I asked her, 'Is anybody in it?' and she said, 'My son's in it.' "
Chambers, 44, 1317 Siam Road, went around the back of the home to try to find an entrance, but the windows where too high. "I went around the front and there were three small windows and that was the only windows that the fire wasn't coming out of. That little boy was about seven or eight feet back away from the window.
"I knocked the glass out. I had a pair of scissors in my pocket where I cut the bundles for the paper, and I took the scissors and smoothed the glass so that when I pulled him out it wouldn't cut him.
"I jumped in -- it was real tight because I'm kind of heavy -- I got about three-fourths of the way in there and was able to grab him, and pulled him out," he said.
Chambers said he carried the boy, Apollo Kilgore, up to the end of the driveway to his mother. "I told her I was afraid the trailer was going to explode," he said, and the child's mother, Stacy Kilgore, 34, "took him across the road and laid him in a yard," Chambers said.
Joseph Holsclaw, 27, also was injured during the fire, apparently while trying to save Apollo and his sister, Slalaska, 13, who managed to escape by jumping out a bedroom window.
"I don't know if he [Holsclaw] had come through a door or window or what, but he had severed a couple of arteries in his arm. He had lost a lot of blood," Chambers said.
Chambers helped Holsclaw to safety, then got a towel out of the back of the car "and made a compressed bandage and wrapped it real tight over his arteries to try to keep him from bleeding to death. I was trying to talk to him and just let him carry on a conversation, because I didn't want him to go into shock on me."
Sgt. Penny Cornett of the sheriff's department said that when she arrived on the scene at 3:12 a.m., the residence was engulfed in flames and the four family members were lying on the bank across the street. Holsclaw was suffering from lacerations to his right arm and leg and Apollo had burns covering approximately 80 percent of his body, Cornett stated.
Emergency responders from Carter County Rescue Squad transported Holsclaw and Apollo to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment. Apollo was then flown to the Shriners Hospital burn center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he is listed in critical but stable condition. Holsclaw remains hospitalized at the medical center.
After the rescue squad took the family away, Chambers said Monday, "I sat in the driveway and cried. I've worried about the little boy ever since it happened, and even last night, I just would wake up thinking about him -- especially when I heard him crying through that window."
Chambers said he had spoken with Apollo's mother on Monday and was told that he has third-degree burns on his back and second-degree on his legs and face. "I plan on calling and keeping up with him because I feel like I made a friend for life."
Following the rescue, Chambers went home, "washed the black and the blood off of me, and went back and finished the paper. I still had over half a route to do," he said.
Jeannie Chambers believes it's a miracle that her husband heard Apollo's mother scream. "He cannot hear worth anything. It's just by the grace of God that he heard her, I'm sure."
Sheriff Henson said Chambers deserves lots of recognition. "In my opinion, if there ever was a hometown hero, Tim Chambers is -- to go out of his way and put his life at risk -- to go into a burning house like that.
"It took a lot of nerve and a lot of courage. I'm real proud of Tim for the effort that he made. If it had not have been for Tim, we know that we would have lost these two lives. There's no doubt about it.
"My sympathy goes to the family. The 9-year-old, let's just hope and pray that he makes it," said the sheriff.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.