September 3, 2008

Positivity: Man rescues family from fire, is viewed as a hero

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Salt Lake City:

Sat, Aug 30, 2008

Rick Gallegos is a hero. He alerted a grandmother and her three grandchildren their house was on fire and proceeded to get them to safety. Gallegos is a member of Saint Patrick Parish.

Gallegos received the 2008 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Heroism, June 3 at the State Capitol Building. Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., said, “I’m proud of you. Your selfless act of running into a burning house to rescue three small children, without regard for your personal safety, is remarkable. Because of your heroism, a family grieves only a lost structure rather than a lost child.”

The fire happened in a home near 800 West and 200 North in Salt Lake City about 7:30 p.m., in the fall of 2007. The flames destroyed the home. According to the Salt Lake Fire Department, the damage totaled about $90,000. The cause of the fire was not determined.

Gallegos said he and his wife, Mary, a graduate of Judge Memorial Catholic High School, were going home from the Rite Aid on North Temple and 900 West across the street from the burning home, when he noticed the smoke. He told his wife the house was on fire, and she said, no, they were just having a barbeque. She asked why are there people just sitting on the front porch?

“I said it just doesn’t look right, and I have to go in there,” said Gallegos. “I stopped our vehicle and left her right in the middle of the road.

“I walked up to the people sitting on the porch and told them their house was on fire,” said Gallegos. “They gave me a funny look like what are you talking about? I told them to look up, and then they could see the smoke coming out of the attic. I told them to get off the porch.”

There was an older woman, the grandmother of the children still inside the home, who was now in shock and crying.

“I had to ask her who was in the house,” said Gallegos. “She said the kids, and without knowing how many, I took off. I found two of them watching television. They were scared because I was a stranger in their home saying their house was on fire. I asked if there was anybody else in the house, and one said, yes, my little brother is taking a nap.

“I saw one door open and one door closed,” said Gallegos. “So I went to the room with the closed door, and there was the 5-year-old. I picked him up. As we were walking out the door, he woke up. Because I was a stranger, he started hitting me, screaming, and crying. By now the smoke was thick and I could hardly see or breathe. I had to lean forward to get some air, but we made it out the front door.”

Gallegos told the grandmother she had to go across the street because staying in the front yard was too dangerous. The grandmother wanted her chair that was on the porch. Gallegos retrieved the chair and then began to move the family to safety.

Gallegos said the Rite Aide parking lot was full of people, but nobody stopped to see if he needed help with this family, they were too busy taking photos with their cell phone cameras.

“I was thinking, I need help,” said Gallegos. “I looked back at the house just as the roof collapsed and flames shot out the front door like fire out of a dragon’s mouth. This was all in about five or so minutes. Had we not moved, we would have all been burned, or Grandma would have decided she wanted something else from the house.

“Finally a police officer showed up,” said Gallegos. “Then the fire trucks started rolling in. The fire trucks spent the next 90 minutes fighting the flames.

Gallegos told the police officer everything that had happened. He in turn reported it to Salt Lake City Fire Assistant Battalion chief Dennis McKone.

“Before I left I walked over to the grandmother and I told her I was sorry for her loss,” said Gallegos. “By then she was surrounded by her family. She looked at her kids and said, ‘He’s the one who saved my life. If it had not been for him we would have all been burned. He is my angel.’ We all became emotional.”

Gallegos is the father of three children and the grandfather of five. He comes from a family of 15 children, and family is very important to him. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

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