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updated: 12/18/2013 5:54 PM

18-year-old helps save two from Aurora house fire

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  • Two people were injured Wednesday in a fire that destroyed this house on the 900 block of Garfield Avenue in Aurora.

    Two people were injured Wednesday in a fire that destroyed this house on the 900 block of Garfield Avenue in Aurora.
    Courtesy of the Aurora Fire Department


Josue Lopez was getting ready to leave home Wednesday morning in Aurora when he saw a young woman running down his street, yelling that her house was on fire and her parents were trapped upstairs.

He immediately ran toward the house on the 900 block of Garfield Avenue, where he could hear the couple's screams and see a man struggling to get out of an upstairs window as flames engulfed the building.

"I just thought about saving them," the 18-year-old said.

Lopez and three Aurora police officers were able to rescue a 51-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman from the upper rear porch of the house just as firefighters arrived.

Lopez said when he got to the house the man and woman were having trouble breathing because of the heavy smoke. He urged them to jump, but then noticed a ladder chained to the garage.

Lopez said he frantically tried to yank the ladder from its chains, but he was only able to break it loose with the help of the first police officer on the scene.

Firefighters arrived as the couple was climbing down the ladder with the help of two more police officers, Lopez said.

Aurora Fire Department Lt. Craig Mateski said the man suffered from smoke inhalation and was taken to Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora. The woman, who also suffered from smoke inhalation and cuts and scrapes, was taken to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora. Both are in stable condition.

Lopez said the woman had blood coming from her leg, but he visited her later in the hospital where he said she was doing well after receiving some stitches. Lopez said she was expected to go home Wednesday.

A second woman -- who Lopez identified as the man and woman's daughter -- escaped the home uninjured, but she accompanied the other woman to the hospital in an ambulance, according to officials. Four dogs also escaped from the home unharmed.

Authorities said firefighters responded to a 911 call at 9:55 a.m. and found heavy fire on the front porch extending up the exterior of the home to the second story. The blaze also made its way into the walls and attic, making it extremely difficult to extinguish.

"There (were) a lot of areas of hidden fire," Mateski said.

Roughly 50 firefighters battled the blaze, including crews from Sugar Grove and North Aurora. Mateski said the fire was under control shortly after noon.

Lopez estimated firefighters were on the scene within four minutes of his arrival, but he didn't know what would have happened during those four minutes if he wasn't there.

"I didn't really have a chance to think," he said.

He said he didn't know the family he helped save, but his actions were just a neighborly thing to do.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Aurora Fire Department Arson Team.

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