NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Good Samaritan saves family during Bradenton apartment fire; 21 people displaced

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 23:20:58-05

BRADENTON, Fla. -- More than 20 people are out of their homes right now because of an apartment fire in Bradenton.

Around 6 a.m., fire crews were called to the Mira Lagos apartments in Bradenton where a fire was spreading quickly through the building.

"When I got to the living room, I just saw bright orange," said Tamecia Lopez.

Tamecia Lopez woke up to neighbors screaming that there was a fire.

"I’m looking back at the fire and the black smoke is coming so fast," said Lopez.

Lopez says the front part of the apartment was engulfed in flames. So she and her four children rushed to the balcony.

Deputy Chief Rick Blanco with Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue says neighbor Walter Rivas saw the fire on his way to work and ran home got a ladder, brought it back and helped rescue people from the back balconies.

Blanco says Rivas' quick actions helped save lives.

“I feel good, because the child that I rescued and their family was nice,” Rivas told ABC Action News through a Spanish to English translator.

Lopez says without Rivas she may not have made it out.

"The only thing that I can say is I’m grateful that man showed up with that ladder and that I made it out with my life because all I was thinking was, my kids are going to watch me die," said Lopez.

The Red Cross is working to help the displaced families.

The Mira Lagos leasing office is collecting donations for displaced families. As of Monday night, only hours after the fire, six bags of clothes had been donated.

You can drop off donations anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 358 34th Ave. Drive East in Bradenton.

Update at 11 on @abcactionnews

— Ryan Smith (@RyanReports) January 21, 2020

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.