A fast-acting contractor may have saved lives Friday morning when a town house apartment caught fire in Alexandria, Virginia.
As flames poured from third-floor windows, a man doing waterproofing outside ran in and rescued a man and his elderly mother from their third-floor apartment.
“I heard somebody screaming, you know,” Edwin Parada said.
He kicked down the door and ran toward the screams.
“You couldn’t see inside because there was a lot of smoke everywhere,” he said.
He took the shirt off his back to cover the elderly woman, who was unclothed.
“I didn’t want to leave her behind inside,” he said.
The family he rescued were taken to a hospital and are recovering from smoke inhalation. Parada also spent a day in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation.
"It all happened very quickly,” said Lori Friedman, who has lived on the first floor for 30 years. “I was at home in a back room. I heard somebody yelling outside, 'There's a dog inside,' … and I just came out to investigate and see what was happening. Looked up and saw flames and smoke. Got the dog out, got myself out."
Residents of the close Parkfairfax community gathered to watch firefighters battle the blaze and await word about the safety of the people who lived in the building. They took snacks to the firefighters.
Friedman knows she can’t go home.
"They say there's considerable water and smoke damage, so we'll just have to wait and see," she said.
But she won’t be alone.
“The outpouring is really overwhelming me,” she said. “I have more offers of where to stay during this and people offering to take the cat and dog, so that's a nice thing."