This article is a news story written for BrightView.
It started off as just a regular day for BrightView’s Antonio Lopes, who was on his way to work Sep. 7, when smoke wafting from an apartment building caught his attention.
Lopes was at the Hillside Gardens apartment complex in the El Cerrito section of San Diego at 7:20 a.m. when he saw the flames.
He was on the phone calling 9-1-1 when he heard yelling coming from the building and immediately jumped out of his BrightView truck and ran into the burning building.
…[Please continue the story on BrightView’s website by clicking here.]
I was banging on the doors of the apartment complex and telling them to get out,” Lopes said. “The older lady was still in (the apartment) where the fire was coming from, so I kicked the door down and went inside.”
The thick smoke obscured Lopes’ vision, but he followed the screams from the woman and was able to carry her out of the apartment while his fellow BrightView teammate Gabriel Robeles attempted to put out the fire with an extinguisher.
Lopes then ran to the upstairs apartments to get other people safely out of the burning building.
“It was a pretty crazy experience,” he said.
Fire crews arrived a few minutes later and were able to extinguish the fire within 20 minutes, according to NBC San Diego.
Daria Martin, the resident saved from the building, told Lopes he was her savior.
Others, including Lopes’ own family and friends and even people he has never met on social media, have hailed him as a hero.
“I keep thinking about it every day,” Lopes said. “I was at the right place at the right time. It was like God calling me to help these people. I shouldn’t be considered a hero. I just did something hopefully somebody would do for my family.”
Seven people were displaced by the fire, which started in the downstairs apartment and caused smoke damage in the two upper apartments.
According to NBC, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.