Two men who helped a family of five escape a burning home will be honoured Monday

Londoners Doug O’Loughlin, left, and Adam Mortezof stand outside a neighbours home which was destroyed by fire on April 30, 2016. The two men will receive a Citizen Involvement Award from the London Fire Department for their efforts getting family members out of the house during the blaze. (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

Londoners Doug O’Loughlin, left, and Adam Mortezof stand outside a neighbours home which was destroyed by fire on April 30, 2016. The two men will receive a Citizen Involvement Award from the London Fire Department for their efforts getting family members out of the house during the blaze. (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

It was an average Saturday morning on London’s Duke Street.

Ten-year-old Danny Demelo was watching cartoons while his brother and sister and parents slept in.

Outside, neighbour Adam Mortezof had stopped mowing his lawn to chat with another neighbour, Doug O’Loughlin, who was heading out for a bike ride.

Within minutes, all three would be heroes.

First, there was smoke — not the usual burning branch and leaf smoke common in the Coves-area neighbourhood, but house fire smoke.

All hell broke loose.

Demelo saw the fire first, raging outside his family’s door to the back deck, trapping them in their home, which had no front exit. Then, from outside, O’Loughlin saw the smoke billowing out from behind the house and shouted for Mortezof to call 911 as he pedalled over to his neighbour’s home.

Within minutes, Demelo had woken the rest of his family and they followed the sound of O’Loughlin banging at the front of the house until they reached the large window and stood paralyzed with fear as smoke filled the home.

O’Loughlin and Mortezof were there, banging on the house and shouting for the family to get out.

“I could see them through the window to the left of the front door. I said, ‘kick in the (screen) window,’” recalled O’Loughlin, adding he couldn’t hear any smoke alarm sounding.

They did as instructed and O’Loughlin and Mortezof reached up overhead to the window and began to physically pull each member out.

“I had to, because they kind of froze,” said O’Loughlin. “The girl, the young boy and the older kid,” he said. “Then the kids started yelling. ‘Where’s my dad?’ He was at the back of the room. He was looking for clothes, I said ‘Don’t worry about your damn clothes, get out of there,’” he said.

Monday, the London fire department will honour Mortezof and O’Loughlin for their heroics with Citizen Involvement Awards in a ceremony at the city’s main fire station.

A dog upstairs died in the fire, despite attempts to save it. But O’Loughlin said he’s “just thankful” the family members escaped injury.

“Five people are alive. If it had been another minute and a half, they’d have been gone,” he said.

The neighbours rescued the Demelo family in the “nick of time,” agreed spokesperson Rick Jefferson of the fire department.

“Right after they got them out, black smoke came out the window,” Jefferson said of the April 30 house fire, which broke out just before 11 a.m.

“They are heroes, that’s for sure,” said the father, Danny Demelo.

“They got us out of there. And my 10-year-old is a hero too,” he said. “If he hadn’t have woken us up, I don’t know what would’ve happened.”

Firefighters haven’t determined the cause of the blaze, which ignited outside the building.

Since the fire, the Demelo family has been split up, staying with different family members, said Danny Demelo. A friend has started an online campaign to raise money to help them at gofundme.com/26rvj2mk.

Mortezof called the honour from the fire department “amazing,” saying the experience has been surreal.

He said he acted on instinct when he was pulling people out of the smoking building, but grew emotional when he thought about what had happened later.

“The reality set in that night. I was lying in bed thinking, ‘The fact that they all got a second chance to tell each other they love one another is a huge thing,’” he said.

“I’m a family guy and that’s a huge thing.”

jlobrien@postmedia.com

obrienatlfpress

Source: Two men who helped a family of five escape a burning home will be honoured Monday | London Free Press

http://www.lfpress.com/2016/05/15/two-men-who-helped-a-family-of-five-escape-a-burning-home-will-be-honoured-monday