Jose Guzman of Pala, California, was enjoying a barbecue with family on March 10 when he found out that there was a fire on his street. Leaving his fiancée and three daughters with his parents, he decided to drive home to see what the situation was.
They’d just left their house an hour ago, so he doubted it was their house, but when he got home he saw that a neighbor’s house fire was spreading to his own home.
He knew his human family was safe, but his dog was locked up in the house. Gabbana, a pit bull, was the family’s beloved pet, and Guzman had to free her or live with the knowledge that she’d been burned alive.
“I knew something could’ve happened to me or both of us, but it didn’t go through my mind at the time,” Guzman said during an interview with People. “That dog is part of my family.”
“She’s been with us through downs and ups and I couldn’t leave her there. I would do it again if I had to; I would do it for anybody in my family.”
Despite firefighters telling him to stop, he rushed past them, racing down a narrow corridor created by fencing and cars that ended in a wall of flames. At that point, according to People, the firefighters’ water had run out and they were waiting for backup.
“When I ran through curtain of fire where my van was and fence, I didn’t know what was behind that, decided to come here anyways,” Guzman told ABC10 News.
“I knew my dog was here, I knew she was here,” he continued. “I ran through here tried to stay in the middle this was going, this was on fire, couldn’t see anything.”
“All I wanted was to get my dog, I came in here, I didn’t hesitate, I just, I had to get her, she’s part of the family.”
The video was recorded by his landlord’s son-in-law, and has reached people all over the world. It’s terrifying to watch Guzman push past the firefighters, dancing around the flames and then deciding to take the plunge into the fiery bowels of the house and disappear altogether for several seconds.
Apparently the only part of the house not on fire was a bathroom, and that’s where Guzman found his dog, cowering behind the toilet.
Thankfully he emerged again, shooing the dog out in front of him and getting them both to safety, though he suffered second degree burns on his right side, his arm, his face, and his left ear. Gabbana was also singed, but both are doing well and are expected to make full recoveries.
The family faces a tough road ahead, as all their earthly belongings went up in flames. “There’s nothing that survived, nothing, all our savings were here,” Guzman said. But he’s not sorry he faced death to save his dog.
“Me and family would’ve been destroyed, we love that dog, I’m sure there’s people that would do the same thing.”
A family member set up a GoFundMe page to help the family as they move forward, and so far they’ve raised almost $40,000. Hundreds of people have been moved by the man’s love for his dog, and are happy to donate to such a brave and caring family.
Though they no longer have their house or their possessions, this family is still a complete family, and because of that, they’re going to be OK.
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