A local man is being called as a hero for alerting a Homestead Avenue couple about a fire in their house Tuesday evening in Hollister, and the man who alerted the homeowners ended up being injured and flown to a hospital.
The Hollister Fire Department received the call at 5:08 p.m. Tuesday regarding the fire to a single-family house in the 1100 block of Homestead Avenue. It turns out the couple inside the home, the Silvas, were unaware their home was on fire until being alerted.
The passerby and another person had been walking by the home when they noticed fire blowing out of the roof, said Battalion Chief Charlie Bedolla with the Hollister Fire Department. The 35-year-old man pounded on the door and informed the married couple inside that their house was on fire, Bedolla said.
“They didn’t even know,” Bedolla told San Benito Live. “They didn’t even know their house was on fire.”
Bedolla said the alert passerby, identified on social media as Eric Cattoor, may have saved the Homestead Avenue homeowners’ lives.
“They saw the fire blowing out of the roof already,” Bedolla said of the residents passing by.
He went on about the man who alerted the residents: “He could’ve possibly saved their life by getting them out right away. He’s definitely a hero for alerting everyone and getting everyone out of the house before it collapsed on them.”
Bedolla said that same man ended up being flown by Calstar to a Salinas hospital due to a medical emergency, but the fire department official could not provide specifics on that situation. None of the residents or responders were injured in the fire.
The couple’s adult daughter was on scene Wednesday morning helping clean up in the aftermath of the fire, which destroyed the home.
“They were having dinner,” Michelli Rodriguez said of her parents. “My mom said they were just sitting down having dinner and they just heard somebody knocking on the door pretty hard.”
“They said it happened very, very fast,” Rodriguez said.
She said by the time her parents exited the house, the fire department was arriving and much of the home was in flames.
Bedolla said the cause remains under investigation, but he quelled speculation from social media the night of the fire by noting it was not caused by a fireplace. He said the fire was in the attic and roof areas of the house.
The fire department had the fire extinguished as of 5:56 p.m., Bedolla said.
The battalion chief underscored how the wood roof was particularly susceptible to burning.
“It was a big fire,” he said. “When we got there, the home was fully involved through the attic.”
He said looking through the remnants afterward, it was apparent why the residents weren’t aware of the fire above them.
“You couldn’t even tell there was a fire above you,” he said.
Overall, three adults and two minors were displaced by the fire. They slept at Rodriguez’s apartment Tuesday night, the daughter confirmed.
There were 16 firefighters, 22 total personnel and five engines responding to the emergency. Calfire and Santa Clara County assisted, Bedolla said.
He said fire crews were fortunate to prevent spreading to any of the other nearby homes in the Homestead Avenue neighborhood. He also said there was immediate community support, and he mentioned how firefighters offered to help move items out of the home after extinguishing the fire.
“It was a great effort,” he said. “There was plenty of community support.”
Bedolla also wanted to note that a burn ban in place has not been lifted since last April. Fireplace burning is OK, but locals are not allowed to burn in yards or conduct controlled burns.
A GoFundMe page has been started to help raise money for the family’s recovery. Below are more photos from the scene. Look back for a story on the family’s recovery and how local residents can help, along with video showing the damage to the home.