HAMILTON, Ohio -- A Good Samaritan was in the right place at the right time Friday, and helped pull an injured man out of a burning Hamilton home moments before its roof collapsed.
A home closely surrounded by several others exploded at about 3:30 p.m. in the 800 block of Ross Avenue, where Michael Campbell, an auto parts worker was driving by.
Campbell parked his car in the middle of the road, jumped out and ran to the home's second floor to find a man who was hurt and needed help. Police said he probable saved the man's life.
"I got kind of close to the house and I heard, 'Help, help.' (It was) somebody yelling help so I didn't look back, I just ran in," Campbell said. "I tried to look for him and he was upstairs in one of the top bedrooms. I tried kicking in the door and I got it open. A big piece of concrete was laying on him…I really couldn't get him out. He couldn't walk. I got him at least to the steps. The spiral staircase kind of prevented me from getting down."
The property was about to be shown to potential renters, and the property owner helped the Good Samaritan carry the wounded man out.
"I asked the people for help getting him down and get the debris off the steps," Campbell said. "Two people rushed in -- who I would like to thank. Thank you for doing that -- they got (the stairs) free. At that time the roof, I guess the top floor, the roof of the kitchen had caved in on us."
"Clearly without his efforts, we probably would have had a fatality instead of just a serious injury," an officer on scene said. "The house has just been rehabbed. A teacher from one of the local school districts bought the house and had been rehabbing it. They had just finished rehabbing it in the last few days. It was clean this morning and they were getting ready to try and rent it."
The Good Samaritan was taken to Fort Hamilton Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, and is expected to fully recover. The man found inside the home was being treated for third-degree burns and a shattered pelvis at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
THe victim's name and condition is not being released.
Hamilton fire investigators said the cause initially appeared to be accidental, but further examination by the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office has yet to be reviewed.
Officials said there is no final determination on the cause yet.
Jennifer Ruiz lives nearby, and was home at the time of the explosion.
"I was upstairs cleaning and I heard a big bang noise. My house shook and at first I thought maybe the back of my house had blown up," she said.
Ruiz saw the rescue unfold, along with the collapse shortly after.
"The top of (the home) then blew (up) and fell sideways," she said. "I feel sorry for (the owners) because they've done a lot of work to that house. They've been working on it for about three weeks nonstop."
Elbert Lunsford was also driving down Ross Avenue when the explosion happened. He said he turned his truck around and drove back to the scene to see a man come outside.
"We asked him if anybody was working on the house and he said 'yes.' Two or three guys got together and they went inside the house and carried the guy out. He was burned bad. They brought him across the street," Lunsford said. "As soon as they brought him through the door the whole house collapsed. It seemed like in just two or three minutes it was totally engulfed in flames."
The fire caused no damage to neighboring homes, according to Police Sgt. Ed Burns of and Fire Chief Steve Dawson.