Neighbors Help Family Flee Burning Home

7/5/2008 Calwa, CA Two Calwa neighbors who smelled the smoke called 911 then rushed to help Pedro Gomez as he tried desperately to save his home and family. Neighbor Armando Navarro said: "A gentleman was trying to turn it out. He was frantic with a water hose, panicking and scared. You could tell his family's life was at stake."

Neighbor Scott Echaniz said: "Heard screaming, yelling, go to the back there's people in the back. They can't get over the fence."

As the neighbors ran around back, they were joined by another stranger, a security guard working down the street. While the fire inched closer to the Gomez family now in the backyard, the men were forced to break thru a chain link fence.

Scott Echaniz said: "Children saying help, get us out. One was once crying while he was going over fence, didn't know what to say, he just cried. I heard the elderly lady was saying in Spanish I can't climb this fence. I turned to the security guard I got to rip it down."

After getting the women and children to safety, there was one last call for help from a man who cut his arms after breaking out a window to escape. Rescuer Joe Burrus said: "We heard some yelling we went back over there. There was an older gentleman who was cut up and bleeding. We helped him over the fence, came across the street started giving him first aid."

Firefighters say without the help of the three strangers the Gomez family could've lost much more than their home. Chris Christopherson of Fresno County Fire said: "Every one of those men are truly heroes. They didn't have any protective clothing. They risked their own safety to help that family that was trapped in that building."

Echaniz said: "I really didn't think of anything my welfare just those kids, and those elderly ladies."

Investigators say this fire started outside the house, and was apparently an accident. The family says they heard a loud noise then smelled the smoke.

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