Edwards Street fire

Greenwood firefighters and Leflore County volunteer firefighters work to put out a fire at 315 Edwards St. Sunday afternoon.

A 2-year-old Greenwood boy is alive thanks to the heroic efforts of two neighbors who pulled him out of a house fire just in time Sunday.

Edwards Street fire

Ray Smith, left, and Harley Gilbert stand by the house on Edwards Street where they saved a 2-year-old boy who was trapped by a fire Sunday afternoon.

“God had his hands around that child. He was in there too long,” said Harley Gilbert, 30, one of the men who worked to save Gentry Lucas.

“I wasn’t giving up,” said Ray Smith, 42, another neighbor who assisted with the rescue.

Sometime around 2 p.m. Sunday, a fire erupted at a house at 315 Edwards St., off Grenada Boulevard. Gilbert, who works for BFC Solutions and lives next door with his wife and daughter, said he heard windows popping outside.

When he headed out of his house, he could see that his neighbor’s home was engulfed in flames. He then saw the occupant of the burning house, Jeannie Borders, scream that her grandson, Gentry Lucas, was still inside.

Gilbert retrieved a broom and stool to break the windows and try to rescue Gentry. Around that time, Smith, a handyman who lives down the street, came to assist.

On the south side of the house, Gilbert and Smith worked to remove an air conditioning unit from one window and broke the window of an adjacent room to enter the home.

Each time Gilbert and Smith jumped through a window and went into the house — three times for each man — they immediately had to step out because of the intense heat and smoke.

“You can’t hold your breath because it’s so hot,” Gilbert said. “The smoke was so thick and so dark, you couldn’t see anything.”

From the outside, both Gilbert and Smith could hear the child. “I could hear him whimpering,” Smith said.

At the back of the house, Gilbert broke the room windows, and enough smoke cleared that Gilbert was able to see Gentry’s feet. Gilbert then jumped into the house and grabbed Gentry, whose body was purple, Gilbert said.

He called it a miracle that Gentry was alive: “Twenty more seconds, and he would’ve been dead.”

The child seemed to be still for a few moments until Gilbert slapped Gentry on the chest, causing him to breathe. As they moved away from the house fire, Smith began to administer CPR until first responders arrived.

Meanwhile, Gilbert said, he fell to his knees and began coughing out soot. “My body just started locking up and cramping from no oxygen, I guess,” he said.

Both Gilbert and Gentry were taken to Greenwood Leflore Hospital. Gilbert was released Sunday evening. Gentry was transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he was placed on a ventilator.

Borders said Monday that her grandson’s oxygen levels were improving and that health care staffers were conducting an MRI to make sure he had not broken any bones in his neck.

The fire destroyed the home as well as Borders’ 2011 Hyundai Sonata, according to reports from the Greenwood Fire Department, which responded along with Leflore County firefighters.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Borders said she’s not concerned about the loss of her material possessions and is glad that her grandson is all right.

She’s also thankful for the actions of Gilbert and Smith.

“I thank God for them. They were amazing,” she said. “They are angels.”

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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