CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Wednesday morning, David Cantu was getting ready for his day when he smelled smoke in his neighborhood. Down the block, a neighbor’s home was on fire.
Without hesitation, Cantu, an 18-year veteran of the Corpus Christi Fire Department, jumped in his truck and drove down the block.
When he arrived at the burning home, someone was in the second story window.
“He was actually leaning out the window on his phone, and there was smoke coming out,” Cantu said. “The motto of the fire department is, ‘always seek an opportunity to help.’ When I saw someone in need, it was automatically just get out here and see what we can do to help these guys out.”
With the assistance of a neighbor’s ladder, Cantu was able to rescue the man from the building. He informed Cantu his mother and dog were still in the house.
“I walked to the front door and kicked the front door open, tried to make entry. There was a lot of heat and smoke in that area,” Cantu said.
Cantu looked for an alternate way to get into the home, and found another window on the side of the house. Unfortunately, the fire was too much for him.
“There was a lot of heat and smoke coming out when I opened it, so there wasn’t a lot we could do without equipment,” he said.
Luckily, the rest of CCFD wasn’t far behind, and the woman and dog were rescued from the building.
The woman was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center burn unit. As of Thursday, she is still in critical condition, but her family says the carbon monoxide is out of her system, and she has burns on about 10 percent of her body.
The man was treated and released at a local hospital Wednesday. The family says the dog is doing fine, as well.
Cantu said he is thankful he was home when the fire broke out.
“I just thank God that I was here at the right time, at the right place, and able to help,” he said.
Cantu said he was scared running up to the burning home, because he didn’t know what was going to happen, but didn’t think twice about helping.
“The training kicked in, and just did what we’re supposed to do, what we’re trained to do,” he said.