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Letter carrier calls 911 to report house fire

Woodstock firefighter Jordan Highland takes a break after battling this fire on Montvue Avenue in Mount Jackson on Thursday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Ryan Cornell

MOUNT JACKSON -- Mount Jackson Post Office worker Wendy Miller, 42, was training a new employee and delivering mail to Montvue Avenue on Thursday when she noticed the neighboring house was on fire. She said the flames were coming from the corner of the garage, located at 143 Montvue Ave.

After getting out of her vehicle and calling 911 at 12:12 p.m., she started pounding on the front door of the home. She said the man who lived there, identified later as Ronnie Zerkel, rushed outside.

"When he came out of the house and saw that it was on fire, he ran back inside," Miller said.

She said the smoke was too heavy for her to chase after him and that emergency responders on the phone told her to stay outside the house.

"I yelled at him, he yelled back and kept telling me he was OK," she said.

Her trainee, Jason Sager, ran to the back of the house and reported back to her that Zerkel was on the back porch.

Two EMTs arrived at the scene and walked Zerkel from the porch to the rescue squad. She said his face was blackened.

"He looked at me and thanked me," she said. "You could say that I was just at the right place at the right time."

Miller would stay in the neighborhood until 2 p.m., when people started leaving. Before she left, she said she dropped off the Zerkels' mail into the mailbox.

Shenandoah County Fire Marshal David Ferguson said that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. He said Zerkel left the hospital Thursday after he was treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns.

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