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Man saves neighbor from burning house

November 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Firefighters are calling a Manhattan Beach man a hero, after he rescued a bedridden neighbor from a house fire. It happened early Thursday on Oak Avenue and 30th Street. Witnesses say the Good Samaritan carried the woman out before flames enveloped her room.Lucille Meistrell, 92, was stuck in her burning wood-frame house in Manhattan Beach.

"She's basically blind," said Meistrell's son, Larry Meistrell. "She has one eye gone, macular degeneration in the other one. She has osteoporosis. She has arthritis all through her body. She can't hear."

In bed with no way to get out, neighbors awakened her by bursting glass to call for help.

"I was terrified," said one neighbor, Kathy Duffy. "It was scary, it was scary and 911 told me to take a deep breath 'cause I was saying, 'Oh my god, oh my god.'"

Heat and smoke chased the Meistrell's caregiver and her disabled son. But one neighbor was determined, unaware of how bad the conditions were.

"All at one whole time the whole room ignited at once," said Battalion Chief John Weber.

The entire room was blackened as super-hot gases ignited. It happened just moments after the Good Samaritan pulled Lucille Meistrell from the bed.

"If the neighbor had not come in there and removed her from this portion of the bedroom outside the front of the house, the results of her injuries would have been a lot worse, if not fatal," said Weber.

"Oh my gosh -- we're lucky to have him, what a great guy. I mean he's a hero," said Duffy.

"If you went back and looked at it, it's a miracle, it really is. It's an emotional miracle for me," said Larry Meistrell.

As for the neighborhood hero, he's described as a modest low- key kind of guy. He was not at home to give his account of the deed. But to be sure he has a fan club now, and that includes Lucille Meistrell, now recovering with very minor injuries.


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