Grandmother runs into burning building to save 85-year-old neighbor

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 12:58 AM EST
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FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - Firefighters in California are calling a grandmother a hero after she risked her own life to run into her 85-year-old neighbor’s burning apartment and save him from the flames.

The first thing Maria Garcia did Thursday when she smelled smoke and saw flames shooting out of her 85-year-old neighbor’s house in Fountain Valley, California, was run inside. She risked her own life, fighting through thick black smoke.

She says she found the man alone and naked in his living room, calling for his service dog, Walker.

“So, I just go inside. I see the man naked, so I just grab him and the dog. So, I put some clothes on and carry him out,” Maria Garcia said. “He was alone. I just want[ed] nothing to happen to him.”

The grandmother says she never thought about the danger to herself. Thanks to her courageous actions, the man and his dog, who had moved in just the day prior, were able to get out safely.

“It’s something really special. She risked her life... to save others. That’s just - I don’t know. I don’t have the words to describe it. It’s amazing,” said Ezequiel Garcia, Maria’s son.

Firefighters say the 85-year-old man suffered burns to his head but is going to be OK. As many as 21 people were displaced by the fire, which burned two side-by-side residences and threatened others.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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