Off-duty Calif. fire captain rescues seriously burned woman at hotel fire

The captain rescued the woman from her burning car which was near debris burning in the parking lot

By Bethany Clough
The Fresno Bee

FRESNO, Calif.  — A Fresno fire captain on the way home from work rescued a woman who was seriously burned while trying to move her car during a fire at a Motel 6 on Blackstone Avenue.

"He saved her life," said Battalion Chief Sean Johnson of the Fresno Fire Department.

The fire broke out at around 7:30 a.m. Saturday on the backside of the Motel 6 on the west side of Blackstone Avenue north of Ashlan Avenue. The bulk of the fire was in a pile of furniture, mattresses, and other debris in the parking lot, possibly from a remodeling project.

It spread to the exterior of the rooms on both ground and second floors, but firefighters stopped the fire from spreading into most of the rooms, Johnson said.

While evacuating nearby rooms, the fire captain found another couple who was treated by medical personnel.

The woman rescued from her car is in serious condition, Johnson said.

Her car was parked next to the pile of debris.

"She tried to move her car and sustained serious burns," he said. "When our captain here, off duty, arrived on scene, he actually entered the car, noticed her, and rescued her out of that vehicle."

The name of the fire captain was not immediately released.

Hotel residents in nearby rooms who declined to give their names said they weren't alerted to the fire by alarms.

One woman said a nearby window breaking from the fire woke her up, and she had trouble getting her door open.

Another man who only gave his name as John said he was awake in a nearby room smoking a cigarette. He wondered why his room felt so warm, so he opened the door.

"I saw a whole pile of fire," he said.

Although a large metal roll-off trash bin was in the parking lot, residents said the pile of debris was stacked high.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


(c)2021 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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