Fiery pet rescue burns Bartlett woman

Volunteer helping remove damages stands in burned room.
Stephen Godman is one of the volunteers assisting the Slaughter family in recovering from their house fire.
Photo by Carolyn Bahm

Friends and family begin repairing destroyed room

By Carolyn Bahm
Express Editor

Going back into her blazing bedroom for her pet was Melody Slaughter’s second mistake on Jan. 21. Falling asleep smoking – the likely cause of her bedroom’s destruction – was probably the first.

Her mother, Tobey Slaughter, said her daughter dashed into her room, yelling that she’d just woken up and her bed was on fire. As they ran out of the house, the younger woman spotted one cat at the top of the stairs and remembered that her cat, McNasty, was also still inside.

She ran back in, over her mother’s protests, despite the heavy smoke.

Melody, 42, was unconscious on the floor of her blazing bedroom when the Bartlett Fire Department arrived. McNasty ran outside and was fine.

Three units responded to the house fire at 4431 Broadway. Lt. Fred Johnson and firefighter Tim Peyton searched the second floor for Melody, and Johnson heard her moaning. The two rushed her out of the building, and in the confusion she knocked firefighter Calvin Vickers’ mask off, causing him to breathe in heavy smoke.

She suffered smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on the top third of her body, with burns to her face, neck, arms, hands, back, and shoulders, and she remained on a ventilator as of Friday, according to her brother-in-law, Robert Ingram.

The fire took almost three hours to extinguish.

The bedroom was a total loss, and the family does not have fire insurance, Tobey Slaughter said. She is hoping for help from family, friends, neighbors and generous churches.

The great room beneath the fire-damaged bedroom suffered from water damages. Firefighters had to pull down part of the sagging ceiling to release the excess water. Piles of ash, splashes of dirty water, shattered glass, soggy drywall, damp furniture, and the pervasive smell of smoke still filled the Bartlett home three days after the fire.

The fire report estimated property damages at $70,000 and content damages at $25,000. Melody lost all the contents of her room, and the living room below got the brunt of the water overflow.

Melody was not available for comment as of Monday afternoon, but Ingram said the fire crew identified smoking in bed as the apparent cause of the blaze.

The family is very grateful for her rescue, he said, praising the firefighters. “I appreciate everything they did.”

The family requests that any financial donations be made in Tobey Slaughter’s name at the City of Memphis Credit Union.

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