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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Jogger Spots Smoke While on Run, Takes Immediate Action After Realizing What's Trapped Inside House

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Paul Murphy was out for a jog in Scotts Valley, California, when he came across something that really got his pulse racing: Smoke billowing out of a house.

He approached the front door and rang the doorbell, trying to get the owners’ attention.

The Polito family, who lives at the home, was out of town at the time. Thankfully, they had a Ring doorbell installed, and Courtney Polito answered Murphy.

“I saw him running back and forth,” Courtney Polito said, according to WTHR-TV. “So I answered it and he said, ‘Hello, do you see there’s smoke coming out of the top of your house?'”

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Video from the doorbell recording shows plumes of gray smoke, and you can hear the smoke detector alarms blaring in the background.

Once she realized the situation was serious, Courtney told Murphy their pets were still inside and asked if he would be willing to go in and rescue them.

He said yes. She told him the code, and he went inside and managed to safely remove their two dachshunds, their cat and their rabbit.

“It takes a special kind of person [to] go into a burning house to save animals,” husband Tony acknowledged.

Thanks to Murphy, not only were the family’s pets rescued, but the fire was stopped before it consumed the whole house.

“The fire department said 10 more minutes and the house would have been gone,” Courtney said.

While the fire was limited to the garage, smoke infiltrated the house, damaging cabinets and Christmas presents. The family’s car also sustained damage.

But Courtney is eternally grateful for the selfless measures Murphy took in the face of danger to save a complete stranger’s pets.

“I want to give him a hug,” Courtney said. “I’ll bring him to lunch. I’ll bring him dinner. … I just want to thank him so much and let him know how thankful we are. My kids, my husband, we would be devastated if we lost our pets, let alone our home.”

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At first, the jogger’s identity was unknown, but he was later identified and the Politos were able to thank him personally, according to KSBW-TV.

It’s a modern miracle that the family had the Ring system installed and that it was able to help prevent a total loss. Scotts Valley firefighter Andrew LoFranco said it was a first.

“This is the first for our agency where someone uses a Ring doorbell system to alert 911 and the homeowners,” he said.

According to KSBW, the Scotts Valley Fire Department may “recommend a commendation” for Muphy.

Either way, he’s already a hero to this family and their four pets.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking