85-year-old man and mystery jogger help save family from house fire

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 2:52 PM EDT
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SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (WABC) – A father is thanking two heroes for waking up his family when their house was on fire.

A New Jersey fire chief is also praising the 85-year-old neighbor and unknown passerby.

Kendall Park resident Santo Livio said he discovered the fire when he noticed a puff of smoke over one of the neighboring houses.

Before first responders arrived at the home, Livio said he saw a woman walking by.

“We both stopped, and she looks, and I look,” he said. “I said, ‘Is that a fire coming out of that house?’ She says, ‘It’s smoke,’ but she says, ‘It’s got to be a fire.’”

The smoke was coming from the home’s garage. Inside, a father and his four children were asleep, oblivious to the danger.

The mother, who works overnight, was not there.

Kendall Park Fire Chief Chris Perez said the smoke had not yet made it to the house, but was pouring out of the garage where it started.

Livio and the mystery walker jumped into action.

“She starts to run to the door and starts banging,” Livio said. “I run here, and I start hitting on the side of the house, the window, I said, ‘I’m going to go back and call 911. Police and fire engines start coming. At that point … the smoke turned to be a blaze.”

Fortunately, the homeowner and his children got out safely.

Perez said the home had smoke detectors, but they were not working.

The fire was eventually put out through the efforts of crews from three fire departments.

The fire marshal is investigating the cause.

The father, who did not want to be interviewed on camera, said his family is safe, and he is grateful for the first responders as well as Livio and the unknown woman who banged on his door.

“Well, I was happy to do that only in the sense that we are neighbors,” Livio said. “You know, we all say ‘hello’ to each other, good morning. I wish everybody would do that, honestly.”

Police said 50 firefighters responded to the blaze.

The mystery woman slipped away unnoticed in all the commotion.