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Neighbor Gallops to Rescue, Battles Blaze

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Galloping out of the desert on his Arabian steed, a movie stagehand grabbed a garden hose and fought a fire at a neighbor’s house Monday, saving the man’s life, county fire officials said.

Firefighters airlifted the victim, 41-year-old Brian Parker, to Antelope Valley Hospital, where a respirator was helping him breathe. Hospital officials listed his condition as critical.

Randy Smith, 41, and his 11-year-old son, Timothy, were riding their horses Monday afternoon when they noticed smoke billowing from their next-door neighbor’s house about a half-mile away.

“I thought, ‘if he’s burning tumbleweeds, he’s doing it a little close to the house,’ ” Smith said.

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Once they realized the house was ablaze, the Smiths spurred their horses into the yard, where the father dismounted and pounded on the front door. No one answered, so Smith ran to a back bedroom window. There he saw more smoke pouring out of a shattered window and flames illuminating the haze inside.

Spotting a garden hose on the ground, Smith twisted the spigot, bashed in another window and began spraying water into the burning room.

“I called Brian’s name,” Smith said. “I believe I heard him answer me, but the room was totally engulfed in smoke. I couldn’t see anything.”

As his father battled the blaze, Timothy dismounted his roan gelding, ran home and alerted fire station No. 92 in Littlerock.

Randy Smith continued to spray water into the bedroom until the flames died.

“I called his name again,” Smith said. “But I didn’t hear any answer.”

Smith then ran to the front and kicked in the door, releasing more smoke and the piercing scream of the smoke detector. He also broke the bathroom window to further ventilate the house.

“He had put out most of the fire by the time we arrived,” said Jeff Britton, a county paramedic.

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Timothy guided firefighters to the burning home, where they found Parker unconscious in the bathroom. Parker, who has cancer and is partially paralyzed, had been lying next to a full tub in the bathroom when the fire trapped him, firefighters told Smith. Parker had stuffed towels beneath the door to block the fumes, Britton said, but the flames had nearly gnawed through the door by the time firefighters arrived.

“If we weren’t in the area, the whole house would’ve burned to the ground,” Smith said. “And there would have been a loss of life.”


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