WILMER, Ala. (WALA) - A Wilmer man lost his home in a fire Sunday night, and he nearly lost in life trying to escape.
When FOX10 News spoke to Ralph Roberts on Monday about the close call, the shell of his mobile home remained sitting on a plot of land along Christopher Drive in Wilmer.
Its contents were destroyed, and rooms were indistinguishable among the burned ruins.
The man, who lived in the home, alone, survived this mess because he says he refused to give up.
"I woke up for some reason and I picked up my little clock and looked at it and it said eleven O'clock," said Roberts, of Wilmer.
Roberts planned on going back to sleep.
"And I heard something going beep, beep, beep," said Roberts.
That beeping was Roberts' smoke detector going off.
"So, I jumped up and I couldn't get no further than half way to my kitchen, then I seen the glare through the porch window. I seen the fire," said Roberts.
Roberts says it appeared the fire started on the porch, blocking a ramp that runs along the front of the house: his only means of escape.
Roberts suffered a stroke years ago and has since used a wheel chair.
"I had to drag myself away from it," said Roberts.
Roberts powered his chair to his back door, opened it and fell onto some steps.
"It was awful, that's why I have dirt under my fingernails from dragging myself across the yard," said Roberts.
It seemed to him that no one was around to help.
"Of course, everybody was asleep, but finally my neighbor way across the field his wife heard one of the explosions and he walked outside and heard me screaming," said Roberts, "He helped drag me away from it."
Roberts lost his home, medications, and most of his possessions, but he says he will rebuild.
"I was just thanking God that I got out, just a split second later I wouldn't have been here," said Roberts.
Roberts can't explain how the fire started, but he has his suspicions.
"I think somebody set it on fire." said Roberts, "There's just no other explanation for it, cause nothings on that porch whatsoever, no electrical."
Investigators are working to find out what caused this fire.
Roberts offered this advice for others: plan a fire escape route and be sure to have more than one way to exit.
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