SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane man escaped a mobile home fire early Monday morning thanks to the intervention of his neighbor, Sister Madonna Buder, better known in the triathlon community as the "Iron Nun."
David Ward was sleeping Monday when a fire broke out on the back porch of his mobile home, located in a mobile home park for seniors in the 3200 block of Boone around 6 am.
The flames caught nearby bushes on fire, and Ward says those flames caught the attention of Sister Buder across the street. Buder came and knocked on Ward's door, waking him up to find smoke filling his home.
Ward says he does have smoke alarms, though they didn't go off.
"I figure she saved my life," Ward said.
Ward says it was a cigarette he rolled himself that started the fire. He says he placed it in a potted plant on the back porch, which caught fire while he was sleeping.
"I'm still in a little bit of a daze, you know. It's still kind of sinking in that I've got so much damage done," Ward said.
Ward said he isn't sure what is going to happen. He doesn't have any home insurance, so he'll be staying with his ex-wife until he is able to find a way to pay for the damage. The home is repairable, though Ward can't live in it until it's fixed.
Ward says he's happy to be alive thanks to Sister Buder.
"She's an angel. The Iron Lady comes through again," he said.
Buder – dubbed the "Iron Nun" in the triathlon community – has completed more than 300 Ironman competitions, with her first competition at age 52.
Now 86, Buder is the current record holder for the oldest person to finish an Ironman triathlon and was inducted in the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2014.
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