ALTOONA, Iowa — In some ways Tyler Warner’s backyard weekend campout with family was a right place and time situation. “My wife woke me up because she heard voices outside,” Warner said.
Early Sunday morning his neighbor’s home at 1401 5th Avenue SE in Altoona was on fire and the elderly couple was trapped inside. “She had her head already sticking out the window just gasping for air,” said Warner.
A 71 year old woman’s screams from a first floor bedroom window woke Tyler and his wife from the tent. “She was trying to yell for help but was struggling to get oxygen because of all the smoke,” said Warner.
His wife called 911 and Tyler didn’t have time to think so he acted. Warner said, “I told her grab onto me and I just pulled her out.”
Altoona Fire Chief Jared Ogbourne says first responders arrived shortly after and began searching for the woman’s husband. “Very very dense black thick smoke on the first story. The fire was actually in the basement so the smoke came up the stairs,” said Ogbourne.
Despite life saving efforts on the 73 year old man, his injuries turned fatal. “It’s always hard when there’s a loss of life and we mourn with the family,” Ogbourne said.
The couple had been living in this home together for 50 years dating back to when they built it in 1972. Despite the husband’s death tyler says he just hoped their legacy could continue on through the wife. Warner said, “He was a great guy, a great neighbor. He just always pointed out things I should be doing around the house. Nothing a first time homebuyer couldn’t use. Just a great guy.”
Chief Ogbourne says thanks to Tyler the fire only claimed one life that morning. “The neighbor is a hero whether he wants to call himself a hero or not. His actions saved a life of the female.”
Warner is a hero that only hopes others would pay it forward. He said, “It’s probably not an everyday thing but you know you always hope your neighbors got your back just like you’ve got theirs.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The names of the fire victims have not been released at this time.