ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - An Escondido man is giving thanks to his neighbors, who leapt into action, as flames consumed his home last Sunday.
In cellphone video, the man heard panting for breath while hosing the flames is a neighbor who saw the flames and went running toward a home on W. 10th Ave.
“It’s just so heartwarming in that they're there to help anybody,” said Jo Milo.
Milo, a high school lab supervisor, was house-sitting at a friend's house Sunday when the granny flat he calls home caught fire late in the afternoon.
“In my home, and I heard an explosion … I felt I needed to do something,” said neighbor Will Robles.
Robles says he and two neighbors scrambled to help. The other neighbors—one of them had a cellphone recording— used hoses found on the property to put water on the fire.
Robles used his own fire extinguisher.
“It was hot and scary. When I was that close, my arm started to kind of burn,” said Robles.
As the fire intensified, Robles says they searched for and helped get some family members to safety, helping one over a fence.
“I asked him to climb, and I grabbed his shirt. Noticed he was barefoot as well,” said Robles.
The men fought the flames for more than five minutes before fire crews arrived.
When the smoke cleared, a toolshed and the granny flat were gutted.
“My possessions, mainly all gone. I had withdrawn my life savings to help my family with a down payment on a remodel. That also burned,” said Milo.
Milo says he wasn't insured, as the insurance had lapsed while his father, the homeowner, was switching insurers.
The result could have been much worse. Milo says because of the efforts of his neighbors—putting water on the fire and wetting down the ground and trees—they likely prevented the fire from spreading to the main house, which was just a few feet away.
"Just heroic and brave. For them to step in, I’m forever grateful,” said Milo.
Faulty wiring was determined to be the cause of the fire, which led to more than $300,000 in damages and losses.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.