The quick actions of two bystanders helped in the rescue of two individuals from a house fire today in Penticton.
Neighbour Gord Portman and A&W employee Rob Madden saw smoke rising from a building close by, and quickly jumped into action.
Not only did they notify first responders, they also didn’t hesitate in charging into the burning building to rescue the residents.
The Western News previously reported that crews responded to a house fire on Duncan Avenue and Main Street Saturday night.
Portman was outside having a cigarette when he noticed an abnormal amount of smoke rising from the chimney of the building across the street. He quickly went over to investigate and was met by Madden, who had seen flames from his position at the restaurant window.
“I was looking out the side window, taking orders, and I noticed there was flames coming from the basement window,” said Madden.
“It was pretty intense. I got on my cell phone, dialed 911 right away and ran up to the house, banging on the door. Then all of sudden Gord’s right there beside me banging on the door, he opens the door, it (smoke) just… bam.”
After banging on the door with no answer, they found it unlocked and opened it, and were hit by a thick cloud of black smoke.
“Lucky that the door was unlocked,” Madden added.
Portman got on his stomach and started crawling around, hearing a voice close by. He found an individual and attempted to pull them out of the building, but was forced to leave three times to get air.
On his second attempt he managed to get the individual to the front door, and was assisted by a police officer in getting them to the curb.
“It was absolute chaos,” said Portman, standing in front of his house with no shoes on. “Everything happened so fast.”
“It was burning my lungs, it was burning my eyes,” said Madden.
They had heard a second voice inside but were not able to get them out. Portman yelled for them to get on their stomach and go towards the light, when he became disoriented and lost his own position. Replaying in his head the layout of the house, he managed to get out. Fire crews later reported they needed to pull one person out of the house.
Portman recalled that crews resuscitated one individual. He also said they rescued two dogs. He praised first responders for their quick response.
Asked why he did it, Portman’s answer was simple: “I’d do it for anybody.”
“It’s just instinct man, just do it… I’ve got no fear.”
Not many can say they’ve saved a life, and even fewer can say they’ve saved many. However, today, Portman added two more to his list.
He has a habit of being in the wrong place at the right time; this isn’t the first time he’s helped save a life.
Adding it up in his head, he settled with a total of 12.
For him, two memorable rescues were pulling a man from a burning car close to a natural gas line, and pulling six individuals out of a van submerged in water.
“God’s got a purpose,” he said.
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