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Neighbor rescues elderly couple from burning home

Posted at 2:59 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 15:59:15-04

TAFT, Texas — It was a scary Monday morning for people in a Taft neighborhood as a pre-dawn fire ripped through a number of homes leaving destruction behind.

This happened on E. Elm St., near the intersection with Walnut Street just before 4 a.m. Monday.

After the fire was out, friends, family, and neighbors stopped by to survey the damage and as what they can do to help.

If it weren’t for a quick thinking neighbor, it could have been much worse.

“Everybody I know lives in this town, my grandparents, my children,” said Gregorio Garcia. “Everybody I know lives here.”

That's why when Garcia heard a neighbor yelling fire, he rushed outside. His first thoughts went to the elderly neighbors who live nearby. Garcia even broke one door down.

“Mr. & Mrs. Riojas that live in the corner house, they're hard of hearing and elderly,” said Garcia. “Me and two other people went in and made sure they got out safely.”

“A quick reaction from our neighbors, which we appreciate and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts,”: said Millee Martinez, the Riojas’ niece.

“That's 90 years of hard work that was taken away in seconds,” said Martinez. “My aunt and uncle were hard workers.”

Martinez wasn’t the only relative shocked to find the Riojas’ home burned down.

“We were all raised right here at this house,”: said grandson Gilbert Rios.

Rios says that just before 4 a.m., he got a call he never wanted to get; the call that the home which held so many memories for his family was gone.

“My family is hurt right now, devastated,” said Rios.

Fortunately, his grandparents, Antonio and Antonia Riojas made it out of the house unharmed.

That may not have been the case if it weren’t for Garcia.

“The first home, within ten minutes it was completely engulfed in flames, the next home was going up quickly,” said Garcia. “It was either that or take a chance of them not getting out.”

Antonio Riojas is a Korean War veteran. KRIS Communications will pass along any information regarding fundraisers as part of Veterans in Focus.