An 81-year-old woman from Turner Valley in southern Alberta is alive today after neighbours pulled her from the flames that had engulfed her home on Monday.

Elly Craciun's husband had been running an errand when the family down the street noticed a thick plume of smoke.  

Her house was very badly damaged by the time Ron Norbert and his sons Alex and Shawn arrived.  


A Turner Valley man and his two sons pulled an 81-year-old neighbour from this burning home Monday. (Submitted by Shawn Norbert)

"When we got here there was flames coming out the front windows and the side windows," said Ron.   

Normally confined to a wheelchair, Craciun's rescuers found her sitting on the floor badly burned and just steps from safety.  

"I tried to talk to her but she was non-responsive, so i just picked her up and carried her out," said Ron.

Soon after, 18-year-old Alex rushed her to the hospital.  

Craciun has now been moved to the burn unit at Calgary's Foothills hospital, and is still in serious condition.  

The Noberts were able to escape without injury.   

"Nothing serious, just a little bit less hair than I had yesterday — that's all," said Ron.  

Woman rescued seconds before explosion

Less than 60 seconds after they got Craciun out there was a loud explosion inside the home, which turned out to be her oxygen tank.

"Their quick actions prevented this from being a tragic incident right from the get go and they need to be commended for that," said RCMP Sgt. Jim Ross.

But Ron was quick to pass the praise onto his sons.

"They did a really good job, I was really proud of them for what they did," he said.

The focus now turns to Craciun and her husband who have nothing, as their home and its contents have been reduced to a pile of charred rubble.

"First of all we got to get 'em back on their feet," said Darren Lynch, a close family friend of the Craciuns. 

Lynch is sure the community will pitch in to help. 

"They help everybody and that's what people do for each other, stick together, help each other out when things go bad," he said. "They'd do the same for me."

Lynch said Craciun is the "sweetest lady."

"She's like an auntie," he said. "She's always got a piece a toast and a cup a tea for you."