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Neighbor saves family from fire, arson suspected
OKALOOSA COUNTY - A family in Holt is calling their neighbor a hero for saving them from a fire that destroyed their home. It happened around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning on Lighthouse Church Road.
Richard Melanson says his three children were asleep on the side of the house that caught fire after two cars went up in flames.
"They were just a big fireball," Melanson said, "The flames just blew to the house and it wasn't ten minutes later the whole house was going up."
Melanson, his wife and three kids, ranging in age from 12 to 17, were asleep at the time. He says the bedrooms of his two youngest children were closest to the burning cars.
"There's no doubt in my mind that had it not been for the neighbor, my son and my daughter wouldn't have made it," said Melanson.
That neighbor, Carson Taylor, got a handshake and a hug from Melanson after telling us his side of the story.
"I woke up to my mother actually, standing at my fence yelling," Taylor said, "I grabbed my pistol and I ran out the back."
Taylor, who lives two houses away, jumped over his fence and saw the two cars engulfed in flames.
"I immediately noticed that the siding of the house, the plastic siding was starting to melt," Taylor said, "And it was just a matter of, I had hoped they were already out but I could tell they weren't."
Melanson says he woke to the sound of Taylor banging on the front door.
"We grabbed the kids and we come out here," Melanson said, "My wife called 911."
The family says the fire is being investigated as arson. A sign from the State Fire Marshal's Office asking for tips was posted in front of their home.
Melanson says he has no idea who started the fire.
"Both my vehicles are gone. All our belongings are gone," Melanson said, "I don't know if this was just a personal attack or kids in the neighborhood."
The Melansons are staying with family members nearby. They say they've gotten a lot of help from relatives and friends in the community.
If you have any information about the fire, you're asked to call the State Fire Marshal's Office at 1-877-662-7766.