While one Los Angeles firefighter was at work, the unimaginable happened at his home. An electrical fire raged through his house as his wife and five-year-old son were trapped inside. Fire Department paramedic and trained firefighter Jason Chapman says he could have lost both his wife and young son if it hadn’t been for the brave actions of one local teen. Matthew Hawker, 17, is being hailed a hero after jumping into action to save the life of a mother and her five-year-old son from their burning home.
CBS-LA reports that Matthew Hawker was returning home when he heard Chapman’s wife screaming for help. The teen says he jumped his fence and saw that the home was on fire. The Chapman’s five-year-old son was stuck in the top story of the house as flames shot through the home below. The boy’s mother had jumped from the balcony and was planning to catch her son from below. However, she broke her leg during the jump and the boy was too scared to move.
Hawker says he initially broke through the back sliding glass door but was only able to stay in the home for a few seconds due to the extreme smoke. However, Hawker was determined to save the young child and went back outside to reassess the situation. He saw a ladder and without hesitation placed it against the back of the home and used it to climb to the balcony. He then grabbed the small child and the two climbed back down the ladder to safety.
“I broke the back sliding glass door and I went for a little less than minute because I couldn’t see anything and then I came out out, found a ladder on the side of the house and put it on a bar that was outside up, climbed the ladder and then jumped to the balcony.”
The teen says he knows there was a lot of danger in what he did but he couldn’t stand by and allow the child to die. He says in that moment all he could think of was getting to that boy.
“I know there was a lot of dangers, like, I could’ve possibly lost my life, but at the moment, all I was thinking about was the boy.”
Chapman told ABC7 that though he is a trained firefighter, the actions of Hawker is “not expected” from a teenager.
“We do it for a living. We’re trained to do it as firemen, so it’s expected of us. It’s not expected of a 17-year-old.”
Unfortunately not everyone made it out of the Chapman’s home that day. Chapman’s FEMA search-and-rescue dog, Boogie, died in the fire as he was crated downstairs. The Los Angeles Fire Department says that the loss of Boogie has been hard on the entire department but especially Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Chapman, his owner and trainer. Boogie was nine-years-old and had worked in disasters such as Hurricane Gustav, the LAFD says she was one of the most experienced K9s on their team and was a trainer to other dogs.
“It takes tremendous dedication to train a search dog and it is all voluntary. The money and time invested into the K9 comes from the firefighter themselves. Jason and Boogie spent countless hours together on rubble piles across the country, honing their skills and developing into a finely tuned, professional team. The bond forged is truly unique and deeply personal.
“K9 partners hold a very special place in our hearts. These amazing spirits give complete devotion to their handler and the work they perform. Boogie was one of the best. Our deepest sympathy goes to Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Chapman and his family for the loss of Boogie; partner and beloved family member.”
Though Chapman lost his beloved rescue K-9, he is thankful that his wife and son were saved by the heroic teen who set aside his own safety to save the lives of others. The Fire Family Foundation has now setup a fund for the family in order to help pay for expenses related to the tragedy.
What do you think about the teen’s brave actions during the house fire?
[Image Credit: CBSLA]