A Marine veteran and his wife helped rescue a family from a burning home in California earlier this month.
According to the Thousand Oaks Acorn, Marine veteran Daniel Smith and his wife Kimberly noticed smoke rising from a nearby neighborhood on July 16th and moved in to investigate.
Coming upon a two-story house, Smith said he saw the entire bottom floor of the house was swallowed by flames. Upon further inspection, he saw two elderly people trapped on the second floor, calling for help.
“The wife and husband were basically hanging out the window with smoke coming out,” Smith said. “They were having a really hard time breathing.”
While a nearby neighbor had dialed 911, no attempts were made to rescue the elderly couple.
The elderly couple attempted to jump but were afraid their frail bodies would be injured in the fall. Smith attempted to use a neighbor’s ladder, but found it was not long enough.
Running out of ideas, Smith had to seriously consider whether or not he should rush into the unstable structure.
“Obviously, the smoke was just way too thick and too intense,” Smith said. “The windows were actually falling out because it was too hot- they just popped.”
When Ventura County Fire Battalion Chief Tom Arce arrived ahead of the rest of the department, he held the ladder steady while Smith shakily tried to ascend, instructing the elderly couple to jump.
Arce and Smith helped the couple down just as emergency services arrived in force. The couple refused medical treatment.
“[Smith] did a great job,” Arce said. “He jumped in and helped, along with the lady who got the ladder… Everybody just went to work.”
A retired Marine, the 48-year-old Smith says he gives credit to his wife, who was determined to find the source of the smoke.
“If we didn’t go over there, who knows what would’ve happened,” he said.
Smith added that he acted on human instinct, and would like to think others would have done the same.