SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO (CBSLA.com) — A 20-year-old man with autism, along with his neighbor, is being hailed as a hero after a fire broke out at his San Juan Capistrano home Sunday night.
Neighbor Tony Weeda told KCAL9’s Michele Gile that he knew he had to act quickly when he saw flames shooting up through John Kurrasch’s roof.
Initially, he went to rescue the man’s visiting 83-year-old grandmother, who was asleep downstairs.
“(I told her), ‘Your house is on fire. Like, really bad, we’ve got to get out now.’ And I go, ‘Is anybody in the house?’ She said, ‘John’s upstairs,’” Weeda said.
Weeda said he ran upstairs to rescue John.
The power, however, went out, and smoky conditions caused the neighbor to lose his bearings.
“As we started turning toward the front door, I really was kinda disoriented. I told John, ‘You need to get us out of here. Just walk straight, go to the door like you do every single day,’” said Weeda.
John then led himself and his neighbor out safely.
The fire is believed to have started near a freezer in the garage.
Authorities said when they later inspected the home, they discovered plastic covering the smoke alarms, which may have affected their operation.
The blaze caused approximately $300,000 in damage.