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PTC neighbor enters burning, smoke-filled house to save family of 5

When Aaron Housley arrived on the scene of a raging house fire early Thursday morning with no firefighters in sight, he knew what he had to do.

Flames burst through the garage roof some 30 feet in the air. Inside, a family of five lay asleep, unresponsive to his yells for attention.

There wasn’t much time. Having already called 911 to summon firefighters, Housley refused to wait.

He went in the unlocked front door to rescue the Baker family.

Facing a ferocious heat and blinding smoke down to his waist, Housley’s flashlight helped guide him down the hallway as best he could, considering he’d never been in the house before.

Housley first reached the bedroom of the Baker’s teenage son, who guided them toward the room shared by 3- and 4-year-old siblings.
Housley, who kept yelling the whole time trying to wake the family, picked up the young daughter and by that point the Baker parents had awoken as well. He guided them all to safety.

“The flames were so powerful,” Housley said. “I’m just glad we got in there and got everybody out.”

Fire officials said the Baker’s smoke alarm didn’t activate because it was hard-wired into the house without a battery backup. When the fire in the garage shorted out the power, it disabled the smoke alarm.

Housley had spotted the fire while in the process of bidding good night to his girlfriend, Jessica Huber. Just outside Housley’s home down the street from the Bakers, Huber said she heard a rustling noise, even though they weren’t near a wooded area.

Turns out Huber had heard the crackling of the fire, and after the flames caught Housley’s eye, he grabbed a flashlight and they jumped on Huber’s golf cart to reach the Baker home.

On the way, Housley called 911 to report the fire, and after arriving on the scene he quickly ditched the phone so he could enter the house to try and save the Bakers.

“I just had to spring into action. ... I had to make sure everybody got out,” Housley said.

While it was fortunate that the front door was unlocked, it wouldn’t have kept Housley out.

“My adrenaline was pumping. That door was coming down one way or another,” he said, noting that his Army background “really kicked in.”

Minutes after their harrowing escape, Housley said Mrs. Baker broke down into tears and hugged him out of thanks for saving the family.
“That was the best part,” Housley said. “It was a great thing. I was really happy they got out.”

Thursday morning, as Chris Baker surveyed the damage in the light of day, he was extremely thankful for Housley’s intervention, as well as the kindness of his neighbors and the professionalism of the fire department.

Chris Baker was able to salvage two important playthings for the youngest siblings: their bikes. Otherwise the garage was a mess, with the family’s minivan heavily damaged.

Housley, who ditched his phone just outside the home, found it later, soaked in water. But possessions can be replaced, he said.

The lives of the Baker family, who Housley saved, are priceless.

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Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, I learned math many different ways, both in and out of school. When math was just numbers it was easy to understand.