Benito Ybarbo didn't have time to think when his neighbor's house burst into flames Tuesday afternoon. There was only time to act.
"By the time we knew what was going on, the whole wall was already engulfed in flames," Ybarbo said. "I tried to go in through the living room. I broke the windows and I tried to kick the door but I couldn't kick the door in."
Unable to gain access through the front, Ybarbo went to the back of the home where he broke out two windows. When that didn't work, he kicked in the back door and made his way inside. Once inside, he couldn't see a thing.
"Up top, you couldn't see nothing but smoke, down low you could see," Ybarbo said. "That's how I saw her."
Crawling on the ground, Ybarbo found a 76-year-old woman inside laying on the floor.
"She was talking to me and I asked her about the other people inside and she said they were in there but I couldn't get in there," Ybarbo said.
When the fire fighters arrived at the home in the 500 block of Pennystone Avenue, Ybarbo told them there may be more victims inside.
With downed power lines popping around them and the home fully engulfed, the fire fighters went inside to search for the victims.
"The guys went in when normally we would not go in," said Battalion Chief Connie Hall. "That's when it flashed on them and they had to bail and left the (hose) in there. If there had not been the reports that we had that there were people trapped inside, we would have done an exterior attack."
Fortunately, the woman was mistaken and she was the only person in the home. A relative said the elderly woman lived in the home with her two daughters who weren't home when the fire started.
The women reportedly had no homeowners insurance and don't know where they'll live now that their home is destroyed. But they still have each other.
"I'm just glad she's okay," Ybarbo said. "Honestly I'm just glad she's okay."
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