BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — The Beloit City Council honored resident Luis A. Mendoza with a citation for heroism this month, for heroically saving a mother and her two children who were trapped in a burning apartment building.
On May 24th, Luis Mendoza awoke around 3 a.m. to the sound of crackling and rustling coming from the back of his Oak Street duplex.
“I opened the door to see what was going on outside, and that’s when the smoke and the flames just pushed the door open,” Mendoza recalled.
He quickly grabbed his dog, Blue, and ran toward the front door.
Before he escaped, he heard voices in the basement apartment.
“I wasn’t aware of anybody else in the house at the time, so I heard her screaming, and that’s when I ran back,” he remembered.
In the basement, Mendoza found a mother and her two children.
Mendoza knew they would have to find another way out. He had already burnt his hands during his first escape attempt.
“It was just dark. Like, you couldn’t see nothing, that’s how bad it was,” he said.
Acting fast, Luis used his fists to punch out the glass from the basement window and was able to squeeze mom and the children out to safety.
“Luis was seconds away from not being able to exit that building,” said Deputy Chief Jason Griffin, of the Beloit Fire Department.
“When you have a large fire like that and it doubles in size, reaction times are hard (for the fire department) because you can’t anticipate how big that fire is going to get within a minute’s time period,” he said.
Realizing Blue wasn’t by his side, Mendoza went back into the inferno to look for his dog, but couldn’t find him.
“To have him looking over what he just did and just be concerned about his dog, just kind of shows you what kind of person Luis is,” Griffin said. “He’s not one to look for credit. He just wants to help out and do what he can.”
“There’s plenty of other people out there that I see as heroes but, I mean, in a way [I see what I did as heroic] and in a way, no. I just feel like I did what anybody would have done in that situation,” Mendoza said.
Blue managed to escape from the blaze and returned to Mendoza later that evening.