Passerby saves man from house fire |

Passerby saves man from house fire

Tim Parsons

A host tried to punch an uninvited house guest Saturday. Now he wants to buy him dinner for saving his life.

A passerby on Apache Avenue who noticed a burning house, entered the smoke-filled home, crawled upstairs and carried the unconscious home-owner outside.

“I just barely remember the smoke burning my eyes and I then woke up at Barton (Memorial Hospital),” said Richard Haley, who suffered damage to his throat from smoke inhalation. “I guess some guy pulled me out. I certainly need to at least buy him dinner.”

The passerby was Ray Rhodes, a South Lake Tahoe painting contractor. Rhodes said he noticed smoke coming from the side of the house on the 1300 block of Appache and that the front door was open.

“Once I heard music coming from inside the house, I knew somebody was in there,” Rhodes said.

After Rhodes yelled into the house and got no response, he went in.

“I heard the stereo coming from the upstairs, and then smoke started coming through the house. I went down on my hands and knees and crawled up the stairs but I couldn’t find where the music was coming from. … I was lost. You just couldn’t see I didn’t know which way I was going.

Rhodes finally found Haley passed out on top of his bed. After an unsuccessful attempt to wake him, Rhodes said he grabbed his ankles and pulled him onto the floor.

“He woke up and started swinging at me,” Rhodes said. “I told him, ‘Man, your house is on fire.'”

Rhodes said Haley again lost consciousness.

Rhodes said he put Haley, who he estimates weighs more than 200 pounds, over his shoulder and carried him out of the house.

“He did what he did and it was very good because maybe it saved my life,” said Haley, who returned to Barton on Sunday for more treatment. “My throat is fried.”

After getting the call at 11:06 a.m., four Lake Valley and South Lake Tahoe fire engines responded. The fire was quickly contained.

Lake Valley Battalion Chief Curt Warren said the fire began in the flume of an older-designed fireplace. He estimated the damage at $6,000.

Rhodes was also transported to Barton but he refused treatment.

He said when he came out of the house he was greeted by “firemen with blank stares.”

“They told me I was a hero,” he said.

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