PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) - A metro family is thankful to be alive after an early morning fire forced them from their home. The family says they owe their lives to their neighbor who put his life on the line to save theirs.
Charred wood, melted siding and cars covered in ash and debris is all that’s left of the Christensen family's garage after a fast-moving fire ignited Tuesday morning; smoke and flames quickly spread into the ceiling of the house.
The first call for help came just before 6 a.m. from Sarpy County Sheriff's Deputy Edward Smith. Smith was recorded on 911 audio telling dispatch about the working fire.
“We've got a working house fire right now. I’m gonna see if anybody's in,” Smith relayed to dispatch.
He lives just around the corner and saw the flames as he was driving by on his way to work.
“I’m just very grateful that I happened to be there right when I was,” said Smith. “I immediately jumped out, I was going to call 911, I realized I have a radio on me.”
The family made it safely out of the burning house thanks to Deputy Smith, who pulled them outside after he woke them up by trying to kick down the door.
“We've got three people that were in the house. There’s no more pets or anyone else left in the house. They're all outside,” Smith was recorded telling 911 dispatch.
The family calls him a hero who saved their lives.
“I don't think I’m a hero. I think I would have done the same thing anyone else would have done. Nobody else was going to waste any time if they saw that house fire. I just took the opportunity to run to the house. Do what has to be done,” Smith told WOWT 6 News.
Once firefighters arrived, Deputy Smith went to work; the family tried to find him to say thank you. Smith ended up coming back later in the day and he got a hug of gratitude from the Christensen family.