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Man With Autism Saves Grandmother, Neighbor From Burning Home

The blaze caused more than $150,000 worth of damage, officials said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man with autism is being hailed a hero, after he helped his grandmother and neighbor out of a home filled with smoke in San Juan Capistrano. When the electrical fire broke out in the garage Sunday night, the 20-year-old calmly walked the trio downstairs and outside. Vikki Vargas reports from San Juan Capistrano for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2013. (Published Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013)

    A man with autism is being called an "angel" after leading his 82-year-old grandmother and a would-be rescuer out of a burning Orange County home to safety, according to fire officials.

    The blaze was reported about 9 p.m. Sunday in the 31400 block of Paseo Campeon, according to Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Steve Concialdi.

    Neighbor Tony Weeda, 53, spotted the fire while driving by and pulled over to pound on the door. When no one answered, he entered and woke up the grandmother, who was sleeping on a couch, Concialdi said.

    The pair went upstairs to warn John Kurrasch, 20, when the power went out, leaving the trio in smoke and darkness.

    "You couldn't see a thing," Weeda said. "The house had no lights and the whole house was up in smoke."

    Weeda wasn't familiar enough with the home to navigate through the darkness. He grabbed onto Kurrasch's shirt and told him to lead them to safety. So he did - through the smoke and past flames.

    After Kurrasch led them out, his grandmother referred to him as an "angel" for his heroic act. She told Weeda that they would have died if he hadn't shown up.

    "When the chips are down with John, when somebody's sick, he just transforms into an angel," father Dave Kurrasch said of his son, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2.

    The fire, which was determined to be an accident, caused about $150,000 worth of damage and was possibly started by an appliance in the garage, Concialdi said. Firefighters put out the fire in 30 minutes.

    Though most of blaze was limited to the home's attached garage, the house sustained heavy smoke damage and parts of it burned, Concialdi said. A car in the garage and another in the driveway were destroyed.

    And, thanks to Weeda and John Kurrasch, no one was hurt.

     

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