A Yacolt man is being hailed as a hero after he saved a Clark County family from a fire late Thursday night.
Levi Homola, 24, spent Thursday evening with his in-laws and was driving home along Lucia Falls Road at about 10:45 p.m. when he spotted a glow.
“I saw this orange flickering light, this reflection off of the trees. … I couldn’t see any actual flames,” he said. “I pulled over and told my wife to stay in the pickup.”
Homola had played basketball earlier in the evening and had taken off his shoes to rest his feet for the drive. With only socks on his feet, he grabbed his cellphone and ran out of the car.
“I could hear crackling and popping, I could tell it was a fire,” he said.
He called 911 as he tried to wake up the occupants of the single-wide manufactured home at 26015 Lucia Falls Road.
“I started banging on windows, started banging on the door,” he said. “There were a lot of rigs outside, so I knew someone had to be home.”
Homola said he was frustrated — dispatchers were asking for an address, which he didn’t know — and the residents weren’t waking up.
“I was really worried that someone was going to die,” he said. “I was prepared for the worst — people dead from the smoke already. I guess I was prepared to go in and drag them out.”
As he searched for a rock to break into the home, a man inside finally woke up and came to the door.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to get out of your house, it’s on fire. Do you have any kids?’ “
The man said yes, so Homola ran into the house and helped him by scooping up a young child.
With everyone out safe, the family began moving their vehicles to avoid damage and give firefighters better access. While the adults drove the vehicles, Homola stayed with the kids, telling them everything would be all right.
Less than 10 minutes after the 911 call, firefighters from Clark County Fire District 13 arrived.
Crews went into the house and sprayed water on the flames, bringing the blaze under control in about 15 minutes. They remained on scene until 1 a.m. doing overhaul.
The fire appears to have started on the back porch and spread inside to two rooms, severely damaging the structure, Fire Chief Ben Peeler said. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office.
Crews from Fire District 13 were assisted by Clark County Fire District 3, Fire District 10 and North Country EMS.
Homola eventually went home so that he, his wife and their 3-year-old son could get to bed. Homola wakes up early for his job as a pipe fitter.
“The firefighters, they know what to do, and I did what I could do,” he said.
Peeler said Homola deserves all the credit. Though the family of five is displaced, Peeler said, Homola did everything right to help them escape alive.
“Something really cool he did right: He shut the front door,” Peeler said.
Homola said he closed the door to the burning home out of intuition so the fire would have less oxygen. Peeler said it helped weaken the fire.
“Would I, in that situation, in his shoes, even with my knowledge, remember to do that same thing? I don’t know,” Peeler said.
After Peeler discussed the incident with Homola on Friday, Peeler walked away impressed with Homola’s instincts. “I solicited him to become a volunteer firefighter,” Peeler said.
Peeler said that Homola didn’t immediately accept, but Peeler added that he will stay in touch with Homola to try to persuade him.