An elderly couple escaped a fire that claimed their mobile home and the lives of their three cats Monday, thanks to the speedy response of a neighbor with big dreams.
According to 17-year-old Morgan Herndon, he was returning home at about 12:15 Monday morning when he noticed the fire across the street.
“At first, I thought it was a campfire, but I thought that was a little strange so late at night,” Herndon told Patch. “I went over to see what was going on, and that’s when I noticed the whole porch was up in flames.”
Herndon had always been friendly with his neighbors, Henry and Pauline Vriesema.
“I saw the man near the rear door, so I helped him out, but I knew the woman was still inside,” Herndon said. “So, I went back in for her.”
The teen found them woman inside searching for her cats.
“I told her she had to leave, picked her up and carried her out.”
Herndon said he feels the incident was a sign that he should soon fulfill a longtime dream of his, to become a volunteer firefighter with the Mahwah Fire Department. Herndon told Patch he plans to visit Company 4 to sign up Monday, just three days after his 18th birthday.
Herndon said he was “impressed” with the FD’s response to Monday morning’s fire, which authorities say was caused by improper extension cord wiring.
He also said he was happy to hear that his neighbors were released from the hospital without injury.
“I was really glad to hear they were all right, really glad,” Herndon said. “I hope we will keep in touch now.”
Since the fire, the Vriesemas have moved in with one of their daughters. The Ramapo Reformed Church is hosting a gift card collection to help the couple recoup from the fire. Get all of the information about the collection here.