Maryland Man Saves Neighbor from House Fire
Kevin Fullerton kicked down the door wearing only socks on his feet. There was no time for sneakers when his stepdaughter shouted that Rico's house was burning.
Rico Reed had been weak with lung disease and collapsed in the burning house on Wood Street. Gray smoke poured from his bedroom window Sunday night.
Fullerton ran into the smoke shouting, "Rico! Where you at! Rico!"
Neighbors watched anxiously along the 500 block of the Brooklyn Park street.
Fullerton stumbled upstairs. The house was pitch black. He choked on foul smoke from the mattress melting in the bedroom. Smoke scratched at his eyes. He gasped and groped along.
A voice called out.
Rico lay in the hallway. He's in his early 50s and was burned on his face, shoulder and foot.
Fullerton lifted his neighbor up into his arms. Then he staggered downstairs and banged through the doorway and fell onto the lawn.
But he rose, thinking there might be someone else trapped. With a flashlight now, Fullerton lurched back inside. Smoke swallowed the light. It burned his throat.
The house was empty. Fullerton grew dizzy - he felt he was going to die.
Then, the 45-year-old carpenter fell down the wooden stairs, banging his back and shoulders. A neighbor reached in and dragged him to safety as fire trucks arrived.
Fullerton suffered smoke inhalation and was taken by ambulance to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Rico suffered life-threatening burns and was taken to the Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore.
He was in critical condition Tuesday. And his wife, Sandra Reed, said he was alert and talking to nurses.
"It's hard to say how he'll do because of the illness he has and all the coughing and soot in his lungs," she said.
Anne Arundel County firefighters arrived to the burning townhouse around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday night and it took about 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze. The cause of the fire has not been determined.
Most damage occurred in the upstairs bedroom where a mattress and blankets melted.
Fullerton arrived at the hospital with bits of Rico's burnt hair stuck to his ear.
"Ain't too many people would have busted in there like that man did," said Mark Zeller, who owns the house.
Zeller is Rico's brother-in-law. He allowed Rico to live there while the house was being renovated.
"(Rico) would have burned up if he hadn't taken him out," Zeller said. "He did a good thing."
Fullerton shrugs off such praise. He was home Monday and spoke of the fire while standing on his front porch.
"I never thought about getting hurt. That part never even fazed me," he said. "I just did what I had to do. I'm not going to let anybody die."
His stepdaughter stands nearby, listening and drinking chocolate milk.
"You are a hero," she said.
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