VERNON TOWNSHIP — It wasn’t a typical Saturday afternoon car trip for teenager Rusty Woodrow and three of his friends — it ended with a local fire chief hailing the group as heroes.
Woodrow, Josh Keach, Stephen Kozak and Jesse Eppehimer, as well as passing motorist Amy Lybrook, are being credited by Chief Don Grinnell of Vernon Central Hose Co. with saving the Mary Martin residence from fire, and Martin herself from the possibility of sustaining more serious injury.
“They’re real heroes. Their parents ought to be proud of them,” said Grinnell on Tuesday. “They stepped up and saved the house as well as the owner.”
Martin was listed in stable condition Tuesday in the burn unit at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, said a nursing supervisor who declined to release additional information about Martin’s condition.
“My house caught on fire once — it wasn’t fun,” Woodrow said of why he and his friends were willing to stop when they noticed the smoky scene.
The four teens were driving north on Route 19 around 4:15 p.m. Saturday when they spotted smoke coming up over the rear of the home on Ridge Drive, just off the highway, Woodrow said.
“It was pretty big at the time,” Woodrow said of the blaze they saw as they approached the rear of the home.
They used a nearby garden hose, shovel and broom to knock down the fire on the rear porch of the one-story ranch home before firemen arrived a few minutes later, Grinnell said. Two gasoline cans were close to the blaze and Woodrow pulled those out of the way as well.
Lybrook was able to get Martin’s attention by knocking on the front door of the home while the teens were putting out the fire in the back. She coaxed Martin to exit through that door. Soon afterward Martin was checked by emergency medical personnel, Grinnell said.
“It was pretty much out by the time we got there,” Grinnell said of the fire that the four teens battled.
The cause of the blaze has been ruled accidental by a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal, Grinnell said. Damage was estimated at $5,000 to the porch and a small portion of the rear of the home.
“A lot of kids wouldn’t have done this,” Grinnell said. “They would have waited until we got there.”
Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department assisted at the scene. Firemen returned to quarters at 5:47 p.m. Saturday.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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