It's a fire Claudia Snider believes could have ended tragically. She said, "Oh! We would've all died. We're all old. We don't hear too well."
She and several others live at the Senior Citizens Village, in Fresno. Thankfully, two Fresno Pacific soccer players, Eddie Cabral and Eric Velarde were running on the track, across the street. Cabral explained, “I jumped the fence and ran over there and I saw all kinds of smoke and a lady told me there was a man inside but the door was locked, so the first thing that went through my mind without hesitating was to save the man.”
Cabral kicked through the window, as Velarde urged everyone to get out of the building. Fresno City Water Utilities worker, Ronnie Watts was also nearby. He was quick to take action as well. Snider saw the whole thing happen. She explained, “He said get out of here! Get out of here, there's a fire! He's running over here to help this guy, someone yelled we have to get the women out of the next room, because she's handicapped, and he was just directing everything.”
Snider says her neighbor, Manuel, was the one who was stuck inside the burning building. Firefighters say he suffered third degree burns and is now listed in critical condition.
Watts said, "I heard the guy in there and he was right there. I couldn't even see him. All I could see was his legs, here down and the skin hanging off his fingers and he couldn't even open the screen door because it was so hot. I hope he's going to be alright. He's very badly burned."
No one else was seriously hurt. Some did receive breathing treatments. Cabral needed stiches after cutting his leg, while kicking through the window. He expressed, “My injury, it was worth it to save a life.”
Snider's hoping for a chance to thank the three men for their heroic deeds. She's one of three people who were displaced.
One unit of the complex was severely damaged. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.