Lifestyle & Human Interest

Off-Duty Firefighter Makes Daredevil Rescue While Heading to Football Game


Pasadena Fire Capt. William Basulto is a huge Los Angeles Rams fan, so naturally he took the day off work last Sunday so that he, his son and his father could attend the NFC Championship Game in Inglewood, Calif.

They had it all planned: the tailgating, the outfits, and leaving in plenty of time to get to the stadium early for the game against the rival San Francisco 49ers.

As Basulto went out to load the car, his father, who was sitting on the front porch, spotted smoke.

Basulto came to take a look and watched the smoke steadily increase in intensity. After watching for 20 seconds or so and not hearing any approaching sirens, the off-duty fire chief decided to check it out even though he was dressed head-to-toe in Rams gear, including Rams Nikes that he made for himself.

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Turns out, the fire was just three doors down from the property where Basulto and his father live in East Los Angeles.

“I said, ‘That’s a house fire, Dad. Let me go check it out,'” Basulto told KNBC-TV.

What he found was a detached two-story unit on fire. Residents had managed to put out some of the fire, but the second story was rapidly burning.

Then Basulto learned that Blanca Gonzalez and her dog were trapped upstairs, so he quickly started asking about tools: garden hoses, a long ladder and something to ram open the door.

“It was very interesting the way it all came about,” he said. “This family got me all of the tools and everything I needed.”

Thankfully, Gonzalez, who is in her 50s, was still responsive and was able to meet him at the window, sending her dog out first.

“She handed me her dog first, I handed it down; then I was able to … take her out,” Basulto said.

He also told the Pasadena Star-News that it was the first time he’d ever touched a dog, as he’d been attacked by one as a child and had been terrified of them ever since.

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Firefighters soon arrived and put out the fire in just six minutes. Two other dogs perished in the fire — the cause of which was under investigation — and Gonzalez was still recovering in the hospital on Monday, but she and one of her dogs were alive thanks to Basulto.

When the fire captain arrived and Basulto gave him a complete run-down of the situation, he couldn’t hide his surprise.

“He’s like, ‘Who are you?’ Rams T-shirt and jeans, custom Rams Nikes that I made for myself,” Basulto said, according to KNBC.

Samantha Gonzalez, Blanca’s daughter, publicly thanked Basulto after the incident.

“Since you were able to be there for her, for the rest of my life I’m going to be grateful,” Samantha told KNBC. “She’s alive because of this amazing man.

“I’m so glad that the community has such amazing people to offer their services. That’s what I love about East Los Angeles. We have such an amazing community here.”

And yes, Basulto and his father and son still made it to the game on time and got to see their team win.

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