How a Kamloops man saved a woman and her baby from a burning apartment unit | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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How a Kamloops man saved a woman and her baby from a burning apartment unit

19-year-old Austen Martin was on shift at Penny Pinchers in the city's North Shore when he heard screams of a woman and her baby coming from an apartment building behind the store on Tuesday, July 24. Martin says he jumped into action to help evacuate the woman and her child.

KAMLOOPS - Austen Martin started working back at Penny Pinchers in the city's North Shore back in March. It's a fairly normal part-time job that doesn't normally require jumping into a smoke-filled apartment building, but on this particular shift, Martin says he did just that.

The 19-year-old says he was taking out the garbage when he thought he heard something from an apartment building behind the second-hand store.

"I heard someone screaming in pain and at first I thought I was hearing things," Martin says. "And then I heard another three to five consistent screams and then I heard a baby scream and I was like 'ok, what is going on?'"

Martin says he approached the fence line behind the store where the apartment was. He instantly saw the smoke coming out of an apartment unit on the second floor and ran back to his work to get his boss to call 911.

"I bolted back to my boss and then I bolted back out," Martin says. He was hoping by the time he got back, there would have been other people helping.

"I saw that the (woman) still wasn't out so I hopped the fence and quickly got to the second floor," he says. 

He went through a hole that was in the fence and jumped a second fence to get into the apartment building.

"I thought maybe she might have people trying to help her, but no one was helping so I quickly jumped into action," he says. "I was over a football field away from them."

When he entered the apartment the woman was in, he tried to calm the woman down. She was still trying to put out the fire.

"(The woman) was still running around," he says.

Martin says he didn't think twice and asked the woman to give him the child so they could leave the building safely. 

"I got her attention to grab the kid and told her to stay down low and come with me," he says. "By the time (the woman) got to me, her hand was really burnt so I took the kid out of her hand so she could focus on her hand."

Kamloops Fire Rescue Assistant Chief of Support Services Dan Sutherland says they responded to an apartment fire call shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation but they believe it started on the stove.

Sutherland says one occupant of the home did sustain an injury as a result of the fire but the child was OK. He emphasizes if a fire does ignite in a residence, for people to call 911 right away.

"Be sure you are attending your cooking, if some sort of cooking fire becomes present, don't take action yourself and call 911," he says.

For now, Martin says he doesn't feel like a hero at all, he was just doing what needed to be done.

"I'm not technically trained to be doing these things," he says.

Martin says he is currently planning on becoming a lifeguard in the near future and eventually would like a career in medical emergency services.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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