Miller County deputy rescues Tuscumbia man from blazing house fire

Mitch Prentice
Miller County Deputy Andrew Wickham

It’s rare to come face-to-face with an opportunity for true heroism. For Miller County Deputy Andrew Wickham, that moment came July 25 when he drove up to the scene of an active house fire in Tuscumbia.

Wickham says he was driving through town in the middle of the day as he and his family celebrated his daughter’s 5th birthday. After spending some time at the Eldon community pool, the group bought a cake for their party and were driving home when Wickham saw smoke and a house on fire. He says he immediately called 911 to advise on what was happening, parked his car and ran towards the scene.

He says he knew someone must have been home, due to the cars in the driveway. After failing to make contact from the door, Wickham bust into the home to find Dr. Paul Howard sitting in a chair, unaware that the flames were closing in. Wickham helped Howard out of the house and took him to his car to sit in the air conditioning to cool down. All the while, the house quickly became more and more engulfed in flames.

Wickham says the decision to go into the home kicked in through instinct and training for his job as a first responder. He says the training he has gone through has prepared him to be reactive and proactive in this sort of situation. Even though it was a scary situation, he says he felt sure of the steps he needed to take.

“There’s nothing pleasant about running into a house on fire,” Wickham said. “That’s a terrifying thing to see.”

Looking back on the event, Wickham still claims that he is no hero; just a man helping someone in danger and doing what was right. This, however, is not how many people see the situation. Wickham says he has been flooded with calls and texts of gratitude from community members, congratulating him on his efforts. He says that the Howard family has been in contact as well, thanking him for saving Paul. Wickham says his family was already friends with the Howards, making it all the more special.

Strangely enough, Wickham was already a part of another fire growing up that took his family home in high school. He says that, similar to the fire he had experienced when he was younger, the most resounding part of the whole experience is the community gathering to help those impacted. To him, the community connection is the most amazing part.

“Seeing people bring this family help in any way is really amazing,” Wickham said.