MANATEE -- Skakeriane Timmons was on the phone in her bedroom in her second-story apartment at DeSoto Village at noon Friday and had no idea the hamburger and fries she was cooking in the kitchen had burst into flames on the electric burner.
Her neighbor, Lawrence Smith, known in the apartment complex as "Honey Bee," saw black smoke billowing out of her apartment window and ran upstairs to warn her.
Officials with the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue said Smith's quick actions may have saved Timmons' life. No one was injured in the blaze, which appears to have been caused by the cooking food.
"I pounded on her door and when she opened it I said, 'You got a fire! Get out, get out!'" Smith said.
"I was on the phone and didn't know," said Timmons, who works at the Long John Silvers/KFC restaurant on State Road 64 near Interstate 75. "I believe Honey Bee saved my life."
Both Timmons and Smith tried to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, but the kitchen was engulfed with flames at that point, Smith said.
Southern Manatee, which
responded at 12:16 p.m. to the apartments in the 3800 block of Fifth Street East, put out the blaze in 11 minutes, said battalion chief Herb Smith.
Southern Manatee and Cedar Hammock sent four engines and got assistance from Manatee County EMS, Chief Smith added.
"A total of 15 fire personnel were on the scene," the chief said. "We think that Lawrence Smith is the man of the day. We also want to caution people that they should check their smoke detectors. It is very important."
Timmons did not hear a smoke detector, although her neighbor said he heard one when she opened her door.
The American Red Cross was on the scene quickly and was going to help Timmons if she needed a place to stay, said Glenn Wright of the American Red Cross.
Timmons' apartment is uninhabitable for now because of some heat and smoke damage, Chief Smith said.
"Some other apartments may have been slightly impacted, but we worked to limit it," he added.
Timmons said she was on the phone with a good friend and was so absorbed she didn't smell the smoke or hear anything.
"That woman can talk," Timmons said of his neighbor.