Man risked his own life to save neighbors from apartment fire
It's the last thing you expect to hear at 10 o'clock at night.
“I'm behind the door and I hear banging followed by ‘Get out!’” Lashonda Marshall explained. “Get out. It's a fire. It's a fire. Get out."
Her family, 8 people in all including 4 grandkids, were left completely startled by the late night noise.
“We thought somebody was trying to rob us," she told Fox San Antonio’s Ryan Wolf.
Marshall said screams could be heard in the distance. That’s when reality sunk in.
“It was a life or death situation,” Marshall said she realized. “The man was trying to get us out of the apartment."
They were living just one building away from where flames engulfed one of several apartment units last week. The fire illuminated the night sky as she ran outside with her loved ones. She saw injured people rushed away on stretchers. Many of those outside already had been rescued by the same man who helped Marshall.
"He is a hero," she said. That’s why Marshall nominated Ruben Martinez for the Fox San Antonio CASH FOR KINDNESS award.
Wolf set up a fake interview with Martinez by pretending to be a news producer who was looking to do a story on the firefighting response.
He knocked on his apartment door and shared why he was really there.
“I’m Ryan wolf from Fox San Antonio,” he told him at his front door. “I'm not really the producer. I'm the news anchor for Fox News at Nine. And I'm not really here to talk about the firefighters. I'm really here to talk about you and the heroism that you showed on the night of that fire."
Martinez flashed a smile after he realized there was more to the interview. Wolf asked for his neighbor to come upstairs to reveal the big news. Marshall walked up to the door and shook his hand.
“We had a big fire out here and you could have just left,” she told him.
“No,” he quickly responded. “I couldn't do that. I heard a lady screaming and thought that she was getting beat up. And I went downstairs and next thing I know-- there's a fire! So, I went banging on doors and got everybody."
“You were the one who saved all of us,” she told him. “I promise. Thank you so much.”
Marshall reached out to give Martinez a hug and said, “thank you so much."
Martinez said he's only lived at the Ashler Oaks Apartments on the Northwest Side for about 6 months. The father of 4 said he thought about his own family when he decided to rush between 2 buildings to alert a dozen unsuspecting families.
“I was more scared for them, then I was for myself,” he said.
“Why?” Wolf asked.
“Kids,” he responded with tears in his eyes. “I heard babies crying. Women screaming. That's automatic hero-mode right there."
“We reward people for their selfless acts of kindness,” Wolf said. “And when Lashonda called me and said you need to know about Ruben, that’s why we're here today. Would you put your hand out for me?"
Wolf handed him a stack of $100 bills.
“A thousand dollars," Martinez counted.
“You're getting emotional right now,” Wolf said. “How come?”
“A lot of it comes from kindness,” he explained. “I think a lot about the lady who passed away that night. I think I could have done more. And I didn't. It was a scary night."
Martinez said he planned to use his CASH FOR KINDNESS to help those at his apartment complex who’ve been displaced by the fire.
Click here to nominated someone you know for the CASH FOR KINDNESS award.