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Santa Ana : ‘Heroine,’ 78, Douses Apartment Grease Fire

A 78-year-old woman who ignored the danger of billowing smoke rushed into a neighbor’s apartment to put out a raging grease fire Thursday.

Neighbors proclaimed Alice White “a heroine,” and a Santa Ana Fire Department official said her quick thinking probably prevented the fire from spreading throughout the two-story building that houses 20 apartments at 310 S. Lyon St.

“She did exactly the right thing,” Battalion Chief Richard Keller said.

“She is a heroine,” said V.C. King, who lives at 220 S. Lyon St. “She went in there with all that smoke and knew just what to do.”

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White, in an interview, modestly played down her action. She said she knew what to do because “I’m 78, and I’ve been around a little bit, including having worked in restaurants.” She said that when her neighbor rushed out of a nearby apartment and told her about the grease fire, “I grabbed a can, put some baking soda and a little water in it, and went down to that apartment. I poured the mixture on the stove, and it put out the fire.”

Meanwhile, neighbors were yelling for White to get out of the smoke-filled apartment. “They came in and grabbed me and pulled me out, but by then the fire was out,” White said. “But there was quite a bit of smoke.”

Keller said that by the time firefighters arrived, the blaze was out, adding that there was no structural damage. “She did it,” he said. “She put out that fire. It could have spread. Most grease fires do spread.”

“It took a brave woman to do something like that--to go in there with all that smoke,” King said. “She wasn’t even worried about her own safety.”

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