PHOENIX (AP) — Three passers-by who separately came upon a burning home at dawn Tuesday broke open the front door to rescue two people whose prone bodies were on the other side, blocking normal entry through the doorway.
The man and woman pulled from the home were hospitalized in critical condition for treatment of second-degree burns and smoke inhalation, said fire Capt. Ardell Deliz, a Fire Department spokeswoman.
The man had earlier alerted two other women in the home to the fire, and he told them to get out, which they did, Deliz said.
However, the man stayed inside the home, possibly to find and help the third woman or maybe to find pets in the home, Deliz said.
One of the passers-by, Tim Brislin, said he was out for a run and about a block from his house when he saw smoke "and decided to check it out."
As he got closer, he saw a huge plume coming from the back of a home and smoke seeping from other parts of the home, including the front door's keyhole.
Brislin called 911 to report the fire, and the two women already out of the home said there were other people inside.
Another passer-by, a security guard, also showed up then, and the two men tried to kick open up the front door. They could push the door open enough to see thick, choking smoke inside and the bodies on the floor, but not enough to enter, Brislin said.
The third passer-by, a television service worker, then appeared with a 5-foot-long metal pry bar.
The trio was able to loosen the door from its hinges and then carry and drag the couple out of the house and to the front yard.
The house was full of thick, black smoke and big flames were visible in the rear. If the man and woman "were further in the house, there would have been no way to see them and go get them," Brislin said.
Fire crews began to arrive, helping the injured and entering the home to see if anybody else was inside,
Brislin said the security guard gave him a big hug before they went their separate ways.
"I had to get home and get the kids ready for school," said Brislin, a real estate developer.
The cause of the fire was under investigation. A pet turtle survived, but dog and a cat in the home died in the fire, which destroyed the house's interior and burned a large hole in the roof.