One minute, a Mishawaka man was driving home—the next, he found himself bursting into a burning home to save a badly injured occupant.
Charles Butler lives in Mishawaka but was visiting relatives last night in the South Bend neighborhood where the fire broke out (1628 S. Leer Street).
The man Butler rescued was a total stranger.
“So I didn’t even think about it, I just ran in there and helped,” said Butler.
When South Bend Firefighters first arrived on scene around midnight, flames were still pouring out a second story bedroom window, but a badly burned homeowner who had been trapped inside was resting safely on the front lawn.
“I applaud the, whoever pulled the victim out, they got him out and gave him a chance for survival,” said South Bend Fire Department Battalion Chief David Maenhout.
“You know, the fire, I seen how bad it was and I knew if somebody didn’t help right away, by the time they got here, or something, it could have been too late,” said Butler.
Instead, it was in the nick of time that Charles Butler came driving by the burning home in his white pickup.
“Yeah, we were coming down this way driving, I happened to take a right, look to the right, and I see the house is engulfed in flames and the woman’s on the porch screaming, ‘help, help.’”
A woman who lives at the home had been able to move 65 year old homeowner Jim Denny from the second floor where the fire broke out, to the bottom of the stairs, but she could move him no further.
“And I ran in and noticed that there was a gentleman on the floor and when I did I there was nothing I could do, the ceiling was on fire, pieces were falling, the ceiling fan fell, it was on fire, and she was going hysterical so I did what I can do and I grabbed him by his arm pits and drug him out to the side here, right here, set him down so he could get away from the fire,” said Butler.
65 year old homeowner Jim Denny has been moved to a Fort Wayne burn center where family members say he is in critical condition suffering from smoke inhalation, and from burns to his hands and face.
Back home, a perfect stranger is now pulling for Denny’s full recovery.
“Only takes two minutes to save somebody’s life, I was here maybe two minutes and saved a guy’s life,” said Butler.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation although the woman who lives at the home told News Center 16 about problems they were experiencing with an electrical outlet located in the room where the fire broke out.