FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A Fort Worth grandmother is fighting for her life after firefighters spotted smoke from her house and rescued her Thursday morning.

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Firefighters from station 5 in Fort Worth were on their way back from a false alarm when one of the firefighters says he spotted light smoke coming from the home on Maddox Ave near New York Ave.

“Coming over the freeway we saw some smoke,” says firefighter Matthew Schneider. “We didn’t know what it was. We didn’t know for sure if it was smoke or what it was so we headed that way.”

By the time the crew got to the home smoke had filled the entire two story house.

Trapped inside was Mildred Ballard, 87, who uses a wheelchair.

“The grandson was trying to get her out,” says neighbor Rosa Ochoa, “but he couldn’t.”

Neighbors watched as firefighters quickly ran inside and tried to find Ballard. “Did a search around the room found her in bed – grabbed her and started trying to make my way out of the room – then I thought it would be easier to put her out the window I broke out the window,” says Schneider. He was able to carry Ballard out of the house. Paramedics quickly started CPR and used a machine, which detects carbon monoxide.

Ballard was rushed to Parkland’s Burn Unit in Dallas where she remains in critical condition.

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“The timing was everything with that one I think,” says firefighter Troy Clark. “It’s pretty rare you drive up to that – usually we get dispatched to it so we have time to get things together.”

Investigators say a space heater sparked the fire. Firefighters found one smoke detector inside the home, but they say it did not have a battery.

Thursday windows were boarded up and the home is not livable.

“It was very, very fortunate that we got there as soon as we did it was already very hot there and it would have been a lot worse given just a few more minutes,” says Schneider.

The Fire Department reminds residents that working smoke detectors can provide early warning in the event that a fire should occur in their home. Residents can request a smoke detector from the Fire Department who will install it for free.

Call 817.392.6862 or visit and click on the Smoke Detector/Alarm link under quicklinks.

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