23 Aug 2014
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Soldier, Skateboarder 'Heroes' of Perry Hall Fire

A man and teenager helped residents escape a fire at Silver Spring Station Apartments Sunday night.

Soldier, Skateboarder 'Heroes' of Perry Hall Fire

Among a crowd of  on Sunday night, a man and teenager stood on ice-covered grass. Displaced residents of a complex, where a  had devastated one side of the building, shook their hands and repeatedly said "Thank you."

"They're the heroes here," said resident Mary Kavanagh. "They're the reason we're all safe."

But if you ask 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Jeff Sanders and 13-year-old Justin Kosmicki, they say they did what anyone else would have done—they were just looking out for their neighbors.

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Sanders, a recent  graduate, has served two tours in Afghanistan with the Maryland Army National Guard. When he saw smoke coming from the top-floor of a complex across from his apartment on , he said he didn't hesitate. He immediately called 911 to report the fire and started running toward the building.

Kosmicki, who had been outside skateboarding, followed close behind. He also noticed smoke coming from the building where one of his best friends lives, he said.

"We started hitting all of the buttons. Luckily, somebody buzzed us in," Sanders said.

Kavanagh was sitting with her family in the living room, talking about the , when she heard the door buzzer "being funky," she said.

"My son looked out the balcony and said, 'It's Justin.' They paintball together," Kavanagh said.

After getting inside the building, Kosmicki pulled the fire alarm and Sanders began running door-to-door, yelling "Fire," they said.

The man and teen helped escort residents out of the building before firefighters arrived, residents said. No one was injured.

Read more about the fire in the article, UPDATE: 12 Displaced by 2-Alarm Perry Hall Apartment Fire.

About 70 firefighters and 25 pieces of emergency equipment arrived on the scene, quickly putting out the fire, according to .

Firefighters were able to rescue, and in some cases revive, most of the pets left inside, according to Cooke and residents.

Of the 24 residents of both sides of the apartment complex, 12 returned to their homes on Sunday night, while 12 others were displaced until further notice, Cooke said.

The  arrived on the scene Sunday night to assist residents of four units with food, clothing, bedding, toiletries and other necessities, according to organization spokesman Douglas Lent.

Sanders, at one point, opened up his apartment to some of the fire victims, handing over his door key so a mother and daughter could use his restroom.

"We did what anybody else would have done. If this had happened on our side, I hope someone would have done the same," Sander said.

"We're just glad everyone's OK," Kosmicki said.

Share your experiences with neighbors helping neighbors in the comments.

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