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Off-duty park ranger hailed as hero for rescuing neighbor from Idyllwild house fire

April 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Robert Peek and his wife were fast asleep early Easter morning when the noise from a fire at a neighboring house in Idyllwild woke them.

"About 2:30 in the morning, I heard a loud pop, which I thought was a gunshot, then when we did wake up and became aware of what was going on, the glow of the flames was coming through our house," said Peek, a California park ranger.

Peek ran across to his neighbor's home fearing he was still inside. He said it was instinct and not training that made him rush towards the cabin quickly being consumed by flames.

With the front of the home already engulfed, Peek said he went to the back of the house, jumped over a rail on to the deck and began pounding on a back door.

"He was conscious at the time, but he didn't know what was going on, was coughing," Peek said. "I told him to stand back, I was going to push the door in. I knocked the door in and pulled him out."

Peek said he and his neighbor Paul ran down the back stairs as the fire erupted. Once outside, Peek said he also tried to put out flames near the home's propane tank because he was worried it might explode.

Firefighters took over and knocked out the blaze in three hours after battling the flames with low water pressure due to the high elevation.

"According to the firefighters that were here, they said that he wouldn't have made it," Peek said.

Thanks to Peek's actions his neighbor made it out alive, earning Peek the title of hero in the small mountain community.

"I'm not overly surprised, I'm just really glad that he was there to help his neighbor out," said Idyllwild resident Bill Sperling.

Peek said he doesn't consider what he did anything special.

"I just did what I would hope anybody would do for me," Peek said.

The home was a total loss and the cause of the fire was under investigation.

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