PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio -- A Portage County man is being hailed a hero after helping rescue four members of a family from their burning home.
Eric Peterson told FOX 8 News he was on his way to work at 6 a.m. Tuesday when he saw flames shooting from the side of a neighbor's home on Aberagg Road in Randolph.
Someone else passing by the home had already called 911, and the dispatcher warned that no one should go inside until firefighters arrived.
But Peterson said he knew he had to move fast, so he started pounding on the door.
That woke up a 10-year-old child who was sleeping in the basement. The child came outside with the family dog and told Peterson that her mother and two sisters were still inside.
That's when Peterson crawled inside with a flashlight and did a room-to-room search.
"It was solid smoke in there and the kitchen was totally engulfed in flames, you know; there was nothing, you know. If I would have been in there two or three minutes later, there's no way I could have ever got upstairs, you know; there was just solid smoke," Peterson told FOX 8.
Melissa Eddy was still asleep in her bedroom, unaware her house was on fire when Peterson suddenly appeared.
"So he came inside and found me in my bedroom and got me out and he told me he had one of the kids outside. He asked me how many kids I had; I said, 'three,' and he disappeared," Eddy said. "He found the kids in the bedroom; he was checking the bedrooms and he jumped out of the window."
The fire gutted the home and the Eddy family lost nearly all of their possessions, but Melissa Eddy said they are alive because of the actions of their guardian angel: Eric Peterson.
"Within just minutes of us getting out of the house, the whole thing went up. I mean, there was, we had minutes to spare," Eddy said.
Peterson stopped to check on the family Tuesday night and he told them he's not comfortable being called a hero; he's just a good neighbor who was there in their time of need.
Fire investigators said it appears the blaze started in the sun room of the Eddy home and quickly spread. We asked Peterson what he was thinking as he was going from room to room in the heavy smoke and flames. He said, "What the Hell am I doing here? (LAUGHS)"