Teacher saves four from Alpharetta fire

A teacher rescued four women - including an 80-year-old and one in a wheelchair - from an Alpharetta fire Tuesday afternoon.

The blaze left five people displaced from their townhomes on Memories Drive. No injuries were reported.

Teacher Steve Kehoe was out searching for a new home when he returned to his mother-in-law’s townhouse in the Seasons subdivision to drop off some papers around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

He walked in and saw the back room engulfed in flames, he said. He immediately began shouting for his wife Jane and 80-year-old mother-in-law Jeannette Westbrook.

His wife, who was working in another room, ran outside with the dog. But Westbrook didn’t answer, he said.

Kehoe said he became frantic and began searching the house. He found Westbrook upstairs in the shower.

Kehoe rushed the elderly woman outside and began knocking on doors.

By this time, the fire had spread into the attic and two neighboring units. The windows had burst out and the entire townhouse was engulfed in flames, he said.

Kehoe then rescued two women from a neighboring unit, including one who is in a wheelchair, he said.

Alpharetta firefighters summoned help from Milton and Roswell, Alpharetta Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Howard said.

As of 3:30 p.m., the fire was under control, but firefighters remained on scene extinguishing hot spots.

Emergency officials said things could have been worse if Kehoe didn’t come home when he did.

“I’d say it’s quite possible he saved their lives,” Howard said. “He diverted from what he was doing and really didn’t know why. Call it sixth sense or whatever you like, but if he hadn’t walked in that door when he did, things could have turned out very differently. We’re just thankful everyone got out OK.”

Howard said the fire started on the first floor of 1165 Memories Drive, but the cause remains under investigation. Two of the three units were occupied, Howard said.

Kehoe, a teacher in Connecticut, was staying with Westbrook while he looks for a home in Metro Atlanta.

The fire destroyed Westbrook’s home. She is staying with family. Kehoe said he plans to stay with neighbors while he continues searching for a new home.

“My wife doesn’t even have shoes. My mother-in-law has nothing,” he said.

But the family can buy new shoes and find a new home.

“If I hadn’t come home, I don’t think they would still be alive,” he said.