Mother to hero neighbor after fire: "He's my angel" - Tucson News Now

Mother to hero neighbor after fire: "He's my angel"

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
Tucson News Now -

Marcia Balderrama remains in shock, more than 24 hours removed from the fire that destroyed half her home. As she walked around the outside and looked at the charred walls of the Tucson home, seeing the blackened and burned garage, she recalled what happened.

"He was knocking pretty hard. I didn't know who it was. And then I smelled smoke immediately," Balderrama explained. 

Around 1:30 Saturday morning, large flames had taken over that side of her property, on the 2200 block of East Highland Drive, opposite her and her 7-year-old daughter's bedroom. 

She was asleep and had no idea of the danger. The flames were large enough to alert her neighbor two doors down. 

Larry, who didn't want to speak on camera to Tucson News Now, said he was smoking outside at that time in his front yard and saw an orange glow reflecting off nearby homes. Fire officials said he went up on a ladder to get a better look and saw the flames, before running over to Balderrama's home and waking her up.

"He really saved our lives. He really did. I can't see it any other way," Balderrama said "He's my angel. He really is. He's my angel."

Marcia and her daughter got out safely, with no other warning. Their smoke alarms were down. Balderrama said she had removed them to paint the walls in her home.

"They're so important. How important smoke detectors are. That was the biggest mistake for myself."

In a news release, Tucson Fire Department officials said, "three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. You should have a smoke alarm inside and outside each bedroom and on every level of your home."

The Red Cross has Balderrama and her daughter in a hotel until they can return home safely. Firefighters said it took about 10 minutes to get the fire knocked down. There were no injuries to the firefighters, the residents, or the neighbor.

Investigators are still looking into how it started, but Balderrama is thankful it didn't spread any further.

Looking back on the frightful moment, she is also thankful to her savior, Larry, to have helped them get out unharmed.

"This is just a house," she said looking at the damage. "We're safe."

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