An EMT for the EMS of the Elmont Fire Department...

An EMT for the EMS of the Elmont Fire Department stands by the home where she helped rescue a woman in Elmont, New York. (Feb. 26, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Lisa Johnston was driving with her three kids Friday when they saw flames climbing into the night sky a street away from their Elmont home.

"I saw flames and smoke and embers on the street," Johnston recalled Saturday. "I shot up the block."

The volunteer EMT with the Elmont Fire Department told her middle son, age 13, to call 911 and she ran toward the two-story house on Gotham Avenue.

The husband was outside; his wife was stuck on a ledge after escaping through a second-floor window.

"She made it to the edge of the roof and kind of stopped," Johnston said as she stood Saturday near the destroyed home. The flames burned so hot they melted Johnston's cell phone - dropped during the rescue - and warped metal siding on a neighboring home.

"I yelled, 'You have to jump! You have to jump,' " Johnston said, holding out her hands. "I promised her she wouldn't get hurt and if she did I would take care of her."

Perched 12 feet high, the woman, 45, jumped into the outstretched arms of her husband and Johnston, who laid her on the ground. Johnston checked her to make sure she wasn't bleeding or hadn't broken any bones before she whisked the couple to her minivan. Moments later, fire trucks arrived.

Accompanied in the ambulance by Johnston, the woman, identified by a family member as Deniece Walker, was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola and treated for smoke inhalation. She did not suffer injuries in the leap.

Four fire departments and 80 firefighters put out the blaze. At one point nearby wires caught fire, dropped onto a bush and ignited it, causing Elmont Fire Department Chief James Prince to order trucks away. "The embers were flying everywhere," he said.

The fire was started by an overloaded extension cord plugged into a space heater, Nassau police said. The family dog died in the fire.

"I honestly think she [Johnston] was in the right place at the right time," Prince said.

He identified the woman as a member of the Elmont Union Free School District school board. Johnston works as a secretary for the same district.

Walker could not be reached Saturday.

Her father, Sherman Walker, said, "She's going pretty good. She's out of the hospital now."

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