The fire gutted one apartment unit on Shields Avenue near Highway 168. When the fire broke out around 11 A.M. Friday, the apartment maintenance worker was checking the status of the hot water when he heard glass break. "I saw the smoke coming out and then as I was going around, I heard a guy saying, 'help, help me out.' And he was just standing by the window," said Joaquin Camacho.
Camacho saw heavy black smoke inside the apartment. He noticed a man trapped inside attempting to smash the window to get out. Camacho broke the glass to pull him out. "I was pulling him out then all of a sudden, he just gives up, like dead weight. And I was like, 'oh man, I can't pull him out,'" said Camacho.
That's when two other people stepped in to pull the passed out victim to safety. "First reaction, try to help the guy, try to contain the fire. But afterwards I was a little nervous, a little shaky," said Michael Ortega.
"So three citizens literally pulled this victim out of the apartment, saving him. So again we have another heroic rescue," said Terri Meiss with the Fresno Fire Department.
Just last week, a fire at a senior citizen village in Southeast Fresno left one man critically injured after he was pulled to safety.
In this fire, seven units responded to the scene and were able to put out the fire quickly. Officials want to use this incident as a reminder for people to check their smoke detectors. "Coming up with the time change, we need to change our batteries. Make sure they're all working because this gentleman, it seems in the past fires, they didn't know the house was on fire. They were in another room at the time. If they had been alerted, they may have time to get out," said Meiss.
The rescuers don't consider themselves heroes. They say they did what anyone else would have done. "I'm not really a hero, just another regular human being trying to help a guy. I'd expect the same if I was in the fire, he would come help me," said Ortega.
The victim was taken to the hospital with minor injuries from the broken glass and is said to be recovering. Around a dozen people have been displaced while they wait for power to return to the apartment.