An El Cerrito woman working nearby when explosion and fire tore through a Lafayette home at 777 Moraga Road Wednesday reacted swiftly, and earned the instant recognition and respect of firefighting professionals who arrived behind her.
Dispatchers received a call for help at 1:31 p.m. Wednesday after neighbors in the 700 block of Moraga Road reported heavy, billowing smoke coming from the home at 777 Moraga Road.
Sarah Falconer, a 22-year-old graduate of and recent Stanford graduate, was working at an adjacent residence when she saw the smoke and heard a woman screaming. Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Battalion Chief "Morgan" Savacool said Falconer ran toward the residence, climbing a series of three fences -- one of them electrified -- and down a hill to assist two residents of the stricken home, one of whom had been badly burned.
"Sarah Bravely picked up a disabled resident and carried him from danger, taking him to arriving firefighters," Savacool said. Firefighter-paramedics treated the 71-year-old victim with advanced life support and transported him to a local hospital after it was determined he had suffered second and third degree burns to his face and hands.
The injured man's condition remains unknown as of this writing, but Savacool further said: "the heroic efforts of a Good Samaritan made the difference of life and death for the victim."
Fire crews from ConFire, the Moraga-Orinda Fire District and Walnut Creek quickly put down Wednesday's blaze, believed to have started when the homeowner lit a cigarette near a home oxygen supply, but still under investigation as to precise cause.
Savacool said the 71-year-old man, an invalid, was removed from his home by a second resident, who got him just outside the residence and immediately began calling for help as the man's bedroom and a hallway in the residence continued to burn.
"There was heavy smoke coming from the home," Savacool said. "That's when Sarah arrived..."
Falconer was asked for comment regarding her role in Wednesday's rescue but demurred, citing respect for the privacy of the injured man's family. Her father, John Falconer, said when contacted Thursday: "As you may imagine, I am very proud of her and I believe she is quite appropriately humbly proud that she was able to help out."