A veteran in Salem, Illinois, is being praised for helping his neighbors escape when their home caught on fire last week.
Seventy-year-old Air Force veteran and cancer patient Marshall Helm was walking to the bus stop with his granddaughter on Wednesday morning when the bus driver got his attention, according to KLTV.
“He said, ‘Fire, fire, fire.’ And I looked over here, and sure enough, I saw a fire coming through that window,” Helm recalled.
The veteran immediately ran to his neighbor’s house and opened a side door into the garage where the flames were growing fast.
Moments later, Helm went into the home to look for the owners, who were in bed at the time.
“I was hollering, ‘Fire, fire, we need to get out of here. Anybody in here?’” he told reporters.
When Gary and Kathy Benjamin heard him shouting, they quickly got out of bed and followed his voice to the hallway.
“When I got up and walked out, all I saw was flames coming through the wall,” Gary commented.
The doorway Helm used to get into the house was on fire so all three escaped out a back door.
Kathy later called the veteran a “hero,” adding, “He’s our angel, our angel of mercy.”
The couple shared photos of Helm and their burned-out home in a Facebook post on Friday:
Watch KMOV tonight at 1000 to see our hero Marshal Helm!
“It just shows that not all hero’s wear mask [sic] or capes,” the caption read.
Following the incident, the 70-year-old said he did not think about the risk when he rushed over to warn the couple, adding that he would do it all over again.
“They could have died, and then… I don’t want to think about it,” he commented.
Officials said the cause of the fire is unknown but believe a heat lamp keeping chicks warm in the Benjamins’ garage is to blame, according to KMOV.
A GoFundMe page created to help the couple recover has so far raised $1,587 of its $1,000 goal.