Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) Supervisory TSA Officer (STSO) Donna Adams wanted to give her kids a break from riding the school bus and decided to drive them to school through their old neighborhood. As they meandered along recalling old memories, she glanced at her rear view mirror and noticed white smoke rising up behind her.
“When I saw the smoke I thought, ‘let’s go see what that is and make sure no one needs anything,’” remembered Adams.
As she circled back around to investigate, she saw smoke rising from the hood of a red car parked in a driveway next to a tall pine tree.
“The house was surrounded by trees and there were a lot of trees throughout the neighborhood, Adams recalled. I could see the potential for a small forest fire if the car wasn’t moved.”
Adams saw a man frantically pulling his belongings out of the car as the smoke thickened and stopped across the street and called out to the man asking if he needed any help.
“As I was asking, ‘do you need any help,’ the car burst into flames under tree.”
Jumping from her car, she ran across the street to help. They tried to push the car into the street away from the house, but it was stuck in neutral; it wouldn’t budge. The man jumped into a nearby SUV parked up the driveway but was unsuccessful in attempting to push the burning car into the street and away from the house and trees. Both vehicles and possibly the pine tree were in danger of going to go up in flames. Adams instructed the man to move his SUV back up the driveway.
A concerned neighbor who saw the scene from her window offered a fire extinguisher and said she called 911 before coming outside. Adams asked the neighbor if she could borrow her garden hose.
Thanking the woman, Adams ran back across the street with the hose and hooked it up to an outside faucet. She sprayed the blazing car, the nearby pine tree and the fire trail that had spread onto the driveway.
“I didn’t want the tree to catch on fire and maybe start other trees and houses on fire,” said Adams.
When Anchorage firefighters arrived, Adams explained that the car was locked up and wouldn’t move. Taking their guidance, Adams continued using the hose until the firefighter’s took over and quickly extinguished fire.
“Though the Monte Carlo was trashed,” reflected Adams, “The fire didn’t spread.”
“Donna is definitely Wonder Woman! I always ‘wonder’ what she will do next,” complimented fellow officer, ANC STSO Tequila Carter.
ANC Assistant Federal Security Director-Screening (AFSD-S) Jim Spies presented STSO Adams with the Anchorage Alaska TSA Challenge coin for her quick thinking and added, “STSO Adams goes above and beyond to ensure all of her officers’ needs are taken care of. Her compassion for people is demonstrated whether on the clock or off as seen by her quick reaction to help a stranger dealing with a life threatening fire.”
Editor’s Note: STSO Adams was recently nominated by her peers as STSO of the Year for the three Alaskan Hubs: Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Congratulations Donna!
By Wayne Carey, Strategic Communication & Public Affairs