By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
When Brian Riddle saw the home of Curtis and Lori Phillips engulfed in flames Wednesday afternoon, he sped up to the property near the Oklahoma state line with his employee Rex Campbell, and when he saw the curtains move and a hand against the glass, he knew he had to act.
“It was reactionary,” he said.
With flames shooting from the room where the victims were, Riddle found an outdoor metal table and hurled it through the window. He removed shards of glass on the window’s bottom edge and helped Lori out.
“Her shirt was so hot it was burning our fingers,” Riddle said. He quickly removed her shirt to reduce the amount of heat.
“I asked her where Curtis was, and she said he was still inside,” Riddle said. Riddle yelled out for Phillips who made his way to the open window. Riddle, Campbell and Carl Johnson, who had also arrived at the scene, helped Phillips out of the window.
“His skin was flaking off in our hands,” Riddle said.
A few minutes later, flames shot through the open window, and the rest of the home was engulfed in flames.
“If we had been three minutes later, it would have been too late,” Riddle said.
The couple were transported to Southwest Medical Center when the call came in around 1:37 p.m., and were later flown to the Via Christi Burn Center in Wichita.
Riddle said when he first saw the curtain move, he thought it might have been the pets. The couple had several dogs and cats, but when he saw fingers, he knew they had to get out.
Riddle, owner of Brian’s Hot Oil Service, also owns the trailer park where the Phillips home was located. He said he didn’t think about what to do, he just did it.
“It was just reactionary,” he said. “You see someone not able to get out, you react. You never know what you will do until it hits you in the face. I didn’t even think about it. I saw the curtain move, and I knew we had to do something.”