Connect Commentary: Marine veteran, barber save children from a burning building

Georgia grandfather seeks help in bringing heroes who saved his grandchildren's lives to Georgia to attend a life celebration ceremony for his daughter, who passed in the same fire that they rescued the children from.

Still photos from a cell-phone video shot by a bystander as Phillip Blanks caught 3-year-old Jameson after his mother dropped him from the balcony to the people waiting below, to save him from the raging fire engulfing the apartment.

Editor’s Note: While this article does not technically meet the “local’ guideline for ConnectLocal, this story has Georgia roots, and is of personal importance to me (thus the classification as “editorial”) and I am hoping that my readers will understand why I felt strongly enough about this topic to post it to ConnectLocal as well as my personal page.

On July 3, my friend James Wood, who lives in Augusta, lost his daughter, Rachel Long, in a house fire. He would have also lost his two young grandchildren if it had not been for the selfless and heroic actions of two young men who happened to be in the vicinity.

“There were two kids inside, a three-year-old boy named Jameson and an 8-year-old girl named Roxxie. Their mother, Rachel Long, emerged from the flames onto her third-story balcony. She dropped Jameson over the railing, making a last-ditch effort to save her son's life. Standing below, (Phillip) Blanks reacted, falling back on his training as a high school football player, where he was a wide receiver, and his time in the U.S. Marine Corps,” describes in an article on

Jameson, left, Roxxie, center, and father Corey, right. reunited for the first time after 40 days of medical treatments for Roxxie following the fire that took their mother's life.

Despite her clothing already being on fire, Long did not jump from the balcony herself, but instead turned and went back into the burning apartment to try and save her daughter, who was still inside, bystanders said.

“Meanwhile, bystanders were saying that there was another child in the apartment. D’Artagnan Alexander was passing by on his way to the barbershop where he works when he heard the commotion and saw the flames. He made his way up to the third floor through the smoke and fire. ‘I heard someone scream for help and I found the girl on the floor and carried her outside,” Alexander told the Washington Post. “Everything happened so fast. I didn’t have time to think, my body just kicked into action and I went in.’

"Alexander suffered some minor burns but saved Roxxie's life. Down below, she was reunited with her younger brother. The mother of the children never emerged from the apartment and died in the fire," the article stated.

James Wood of Augusta, father to Rachel Long and grandfather to Jameson and Roxxie, stands with Phillip Blanks, one of the two men that rescued his grandchildren from a raging apartment fire that took the life of his daughter. Woods is seeking assistance in flying Blanks and the other good Samaritan to Georgia to attend a life celebration ceremony for his daughter.

Both Jameson and Roxxie were taken to a local hospital. Jameson is well on his way to recovery from burns and injuries, and Roxxie is soldiering her way through a number of surgeries that will be required for her injuries and burns, followed by intensive physical therapy.

Jameson, during his recovery from burns and injuries sustained in the fire.

Last night, Aug. 15, James messaged me, saying that the family is holding a celebration of life ceremony for Rachel on Oct. 31 – her favorite holiday. James has invited Blanks, as well as Alexander and his wife and kids, and has paid for hotel lodgings for them, but is seeking assistance in procuring airline flights from Phoenix, Az to Augusta Ga for the ceremony, and back home. If you can help, please contact me, Jessica Waters, at 706-391-1515,, or, or contact James directly at 706-550-5178.


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