Mission man reunited with fire rescuers

Bob Hensley,90, is overwhelmed with emotions as he finally meets Becky Mingie of Tennessee an operator with ADT alarm systems on Friday, March 01, 2019 in Mission. Hensley was saved by neighbors and Mingie after his home was on fire and was overwhelmed with smoke.Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor dlopez@themonitor.com

MISSION — On Dec. 11, 91-year-old Bob Hensley woke up to dense smoke filling his Mission home.

His caretaker was gone for the day and his wife happened to be out of town. Hinsley was impaired from smoke inhalation and was struggling to get himself out of the house.

“The smoke engulfed the house,” said Hensley’s wife, Laurel McLeaish. “You can still smell it in the house two months later.”

Lucky for him, the ADT smoke detector in their home contacted the Mission Fire Department as soon as it went off. Even more lucky, Hensley’s neighbor, Erik Garza, heard the alarm going off and went in to help him get out.

“We knew he was by himself, so as soon as we heard the alarm we started pounding on the door,” he said.

On Friday, ADT held a lunch for Hensley, his neighbors and the ADT dispatcher who took his case. Hensley said he was glad to see all of the people who helped him all in one place.

“20 words won’t describe it, and a 100 won’t either,” he said. “It was good to get together and see the people who saved my life.”

Becky Mingie works out of the call center in Knoxville, Tennessee. They take about 2,000 calls a day, she said. The dispatchers simply call the right fire department when an alarm goes off, which she does repeatedly during her night shifts.

“I don’t remember taking the call, it was a night just like any other,” Mingie said. “It didn’t differ from any other call. … I’m glad I can celebrate the survival of Bob.”

Fire likely originated from an electrical circuit in the attic. Mission Fire Chief Gilbert Sanchez said those kinds of fires or usually deadly, given that the victims can’t see where the fire is coming from.

“This was a bad incident with a great outcome,” Sanchez said. “Mr. Hensley is OK, and everything else is replaceable.”