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Pittsburg Man To Be Honored For Rescuing Women From House Fire

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PITTSBURG (CBS SF) — Pittsburg resident Daniel Hernak will be honored at the Pittsburg City Council meeting Monday for saving three women from a house fire in March.

The fire started around 2:35 a.m. in the kitchen of a house at 534 East 12th St. in Pittsburg, according to Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Investigator Vic Massenkoff.

Resident Cylvia Williamson, 90, her live-in caretaker Evangeline Raymundo, 58, and Raymundo’s mother-in-law Lolita Raymundo, 84, were asleep upstairs as smoke began to fill the house.

The smoke and heat from the fire woke Evangeline Raymundo first, and she told her mother-in-law to head for the front door as she went to get Williamson, Massenkoff said.

The caretaker managed to get Williamson and her mother-in-law past what was a raging fire at the bottom of the stairs and into the living room, which was filled with smoke and heat.

As they crawled along the floor, Evangeline Raymundo and her mother-in-law became disorientated and overcome by smoke.

Evangeline Raymundo continued to drag Williamson along the floor until she could do it no longer. They made it to within several feet of the front door but were so disorientated that they could not find it, Massenkoff said.

As the three women were struggling, Hernak, 48, came out of a friend’s house across the street and saw smoke and flames coming from a side window in Williamson’s house.

He began knocking on the front door and tried to open it, but it was locked, Massenkoff said.

As Hernak tried to force the door open, he heard Lolita Raymundo call for help from the other side of the door.

Hernak guided Lolita Raymundo toward the door with his voice and she was able to unlock it.

When the door opened, Hernak was hit by smoke and heat from inside. He got down low and pulled Lolita Raymundo out of the house and onto the lawn, and she told him that more people were inside, Massenkoff said.

Hernak went back to the house and crawled through the smoke and heat until he found Evangeline Raymundo on the floor.

As he pulled her out the front door he realized Williamson was holding onto her feet and he was actually pulling both women out of the house, Massenkoff said.

A neighbor had already called 911. As they waited for firefighters to arrive, Hernak used a garden hose to try to put out the fire through a window.

When firefighters and ambulances arrived, the three women were taken to Sutter Delta Medical Center for treatment of first and second-degree burns and smoke inhalation.

All three women have since recovered from their injuries, thanks to Hernak’s efforts to save them.

The three women, county fire Chief Daryl Louder, Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover and the Pittsburg City Council will hold a ceremony to honor Hernak at 7 p.m. Monday at Pittsburg City Hall at 65 Civic Ave.

“Those whose lives he saved, the Contra Costa Fire Protection District and the City of Pittsburg will always remember and be grateful for Mr. Daniel Hernak’s heroic actions,” Massenkoff wrote in a prepared statement.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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