Lester Mark Lewis was relaxing in his upstairs apartment at 1104 18 ½ Ave., Rock Island, Thursday when shortly after 4 p.m. he realized the two-story home was on fire.
Thinking quickly, the 58-year-old Lewis grabbed his cane and his prized saxophone and pushed the air conditioner out of its place in an upstairs window so he could climb onto the roof of a lower section of the home.
Rock Island Police officers Ricky Robinson and Zachary Furlong used their hands to hold onto Lewis’ feet and ease him off of the roof as smoke poured from the home that was built in 1922, according to electronic records kept by the Rock Island County Assessor’s Office.
As he sat across the street from the burning house and watched Rock Island firefighters battle the blaze and begin an inspection of the home, Lewis spoke to neighbors.
“I hopped out that window like a bat out of hell,” Lewis said.
“God’s not done with me yet,” he told his neighbors. “I got my saxophone out, too. God’s got a use for me. God’s got something he wants me to see.”
Rock Island Fire Chief Jeff Yerkey said firefighters were called to the scene at 4:10 p.m.
Yerkey said the battalion chief arrived on scene and noticed fire coming from the front door and also saw that it had reached the second floor.
The fire was under control in minutes and out by 4:40 p.m.
A woman and her two children who live in the downstairs area of the structure were not at home at the time of the fire.
Rock Island Fire Marshal Greg Marty began his investigation of the fire shortly after it had been put out. The cause of the fire was still under investigation late Thursday.
A damage estimate was not available but Yerkey said the house was not habitable and that the American Red Cross of the Quad-City Area would be called if the residents did not have a place to go.