San Francisco resident Mike Pagan said he believes the last two men to escape the building located at 2260 Wyandotte St. were awakened by his yelling on Saturday evening.
"I don't know what woke them up, whether it was the fire or me yelling," said Pagan, 43. "But if they hadn't woken up within a short amount of time, they probably wouldn't have gotten out."
The two-alarm fire, which was reported at 5:18 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, burned on the second floor of the complex. It displaced residents of four units and injured the two men helped by Pagan. Two firefighters were injured — not by the fire or smoke inhalation, but through their efforts to battle the blaze, according to Mountain View Fire Department spokeswoman Jaime Garrett.
Garrett said that someone did provide assistance to apartment residents before emergency responders arrived at the scene, but she did not know that person's name.
According to Pagan, he arrived at the fire with his daughter, his daughter's mother — Diana Hendry — and his daughter's friend shortly before 5:18 p.m. He had been visiting the area to have lunch with his daughter.
Pagan quickly asked several people standing outside whether they thought there were more people inside and learned there were likely others still in the building.
That's when Pagan sprang into action, while Hendry called 911. Although there were people outside the building on their cell phones, Pagan said, Hendry was the first to call emergency officials.
Pagan said he first went up one stairwell that was not directly affected by the flames and called out through the smoke. That is when he heard two men stirring in one of the apartments. They sounded caught off guard, he said.
He then saw a man poke his head out of the front door of an apartment. Pagan yelled at him, telling him he needed to flee the building. One of the men quickly made it down the stairs, passing through flames and thick smoke to do so. The other man was reluctant, Pagan said.
Pagan ran down the stairwell and began walking up another set of steps leading directly into the fire. There he found the second man, who had stumbled coming down the stairs. Pagan helped the man the rest of the way out of the building, emerging though a "rain of ash."
"His skin and his hair and his shoulder were burned," as the resident passed through flames to escape.
According to Garrett, firefighters arrived to find heavy flames coming from the building's second story, but were able to put the fire out just after 5:30 p.m.
The two residents Pagan helped were taken to a hospital with fire-related injuries.
The firefighters were treated and released from the hospital later that night, Garrett said.
The displaced residents are being helped by the American Red Cross to find temporary housing.