By Glenda Luymes, PNG
SURREY — Smoke was billowing out, but Reshadi Iwaczewski was going in.
Without hesitation, the 24-year-old Surrey man and his friend Keoki Sagastizado dashed into a burning basement suite Friday night in search of the paraplegic man who lived there. They saw nothing but fire and smoke.
“I was calling ‘Where are you?’” recalled Iwaczewki in an interview Saturday. “And then I heard him say, ‘I’m here.’”
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The two young men found Iwaczewki’s neighbour on the floor at the back of the suite, located in in the 9900-block of Scott Road. They attempted to pull him to safety, but couldn’t get a good grip. Iwaczewki, who had been in the shower when the fire started and still had a damp towel with him, wrapped the man’s burned arms in the wet cloth and pulled him to the door.
Moments later, firefighters, who had just arrived at the house, were by the man’s side and performed first aid.
Crews were able to quickly get the fire under control, said Surrey assistant fire chief Chris Keon.
The injured man, who firefighters found “half out of the door,” was rushed to hospital for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation. The blaze remains under investigation, said the assistant chief.
“We’re in shock,” said Iwaczewki. “But we’ve got to keep going. We need to find a place to live for five people and that’s not going to be easy.”
The young man was uncomfortable being called a hero. “It’s what anyone would do,” he said.
Iwaczewki believes the fire may have started in a heating and air conditioning unit near the basement suite. He had returned home for a quick shower before heading out with his friends when he smelled smoke.
“I could smell something burning and then my mom screamed,” he said.
Iwaczewki got dressed and ran to the burning heating unit. He used his wet towel to smother the flames. Meanwhile, his mother was frantically searching for the key to the neighbour’s suite. After finding it, she unlocked the door, and Iwaczewki and his friend Sagastizado plunged inside.
The neighbour’s condition is unknown. Keon said the investigation has been turned over to the RCMP.
A GoFundMe page has been started for the Iwaczewki family.