Beloved community matriarch dies in house fire

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ENGLEWOOD, Tenn. (WVLT) - A neighbor's brave action gives one family a chance to say goodbye to their mother.

Smoke is still rising from Ruth Dailey's home, which burned to the ground yesterday just after noon.

Local 8 News talked to one of Dailey's sons, who says she was showing signs of dementia, and was a heavy smoker. The family thinks she fell asleep holding a burning cigarette, which probably sparked the fire.

When Perry Philpott saw smoke rising above the trees at his neighbor's home, he hopped in his truck and went straight to her house.

As soon as he arrived, Philpott walked in and saw Dailey standing still, and looking as if she was in shock.

"She was standing up, so I actually just put my arm around her and just escorted her out as quickly as possible," said Philpott. "I asked her, I said, 'Nanny are you okay?' And she looked right in my eyes and she said, 'Honey, I'm okay.'"

Her clothes were burned off, but she told Philpott she was not feeling any pain.

Philpott left his beloved neighbor safe in his truck while he tried to move gas cans and tires away from the flames to stop the spreading.

"God had to have his hand on me, because I had overalls similar to what I have on that's insulated. Even though there was a lot of heat, I was protected," said Philpott.

In the meantime, several fire departments responded to battle the blaze.

"House was totally involved. Passenger vehicle was also totally involved. Had to put the vehicle out before we could get to the structure," said Madisonville FD Captain Todd Torbett.

While firefighters battled the flames, Dailey was rushed to Vanderbilt Burn Center in Nashville, where she passed away
Philpott was sad to hear the news, but takes comfort that she was surrounded by loved ones.

"Their grandmother didn't die in a fire. They actually got to see her and say their goodbyes. I mean that's worth it all right there," said Philpott.

No funeral arrangements set yet, but there will be many from around the area who will be paying their respects.

To give you an idea of the motherly figure she was, she gave Philpott's son his first pair of overalls.

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