Neighbor Saves Man From Flames
A quick-thinking neighbor saved a Dana Point man by awakening him just before a smoky electrical fire engulfed his condominium, county fire officials said.
Joseph D. Middlebrook, 55, was not injured in the Monday night blaze that gutted his unit in the 2300 block of Brisbane Bay, county Fire Department spokeswoman Maria Sabol said. The condominium is in a gated community.
Sabol said that the fire broke out in the kitchen of Middlebrook’s home about 10 p.m., apparently as a result of a faulty lamp.
Middlebrook was asleep in his bedroom as flames began to race through the dwelling, Sabol said. There were no smoke detectors, she said.
A neighbor, Udo Stoechmann, noticed smoke pouring from Middlebrook’s condominium and, after calling 911, ran to the home and began yelling. Middlebrook woke up and escaped through a sliding glass door in his bedroom.
“The guy would be dead if it wasn’t for his neighbor,” Sabol said. “When you don’t have a smoke detector and you don’t hear anything, people die from smoke inhalation.”
Firefighters took about 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze. The loss was estimated at $141,000.