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Hancock Field Airman and son rescue neighbors from major fire
New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Brian Matthews (left) of the 174th Attack Wing Communications Squadron, along with his son Nicolas, stand in front of the home in Clay, New York where they rescued several neighbors who were trapped inside during a major house fire the night of February 13, 2013. Tech. Sgt. Matthews, who is stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, took immediate action after hearing a smoke alarm while walking his dog. (NYANG Photo By Senior Airman Duane Morgan/Released)
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Hancock Field Airman and son rescue neighbors from burning house

Posted 3/3/2013   Updated 3/3/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Duane Morgan
174th Attack Wing

3/3/2013 - Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- Tech. Sgt. Brian Matthews, a member of the 174th Attack Wing's Communication Squadron Quality Assurance team, along with his son helped rescue neighbors trapped in a burning building February 13, 2013 in his hometown of Clay, New York.

"It was around 9:30 p.m. and my wife and I were walking our dog when we noticed a beeping sound," said Matthews. "We then realized it was a smoke alarm and noticed smoke coming from the house across the street."  Matthews feared that all nine residents in the house were inside and acted quickly in coming to their aid.

"I immediately turned to my wife and told her to call 911," said Matthews. "I then ran to the house to knock on the door the warn everyone to get out."  While running toward the house Matthews noticed some of the residents were hanging their heads out of the window to keep from inhaling all the smoke coming from the house.  "There was a mother and her two kids on the second floor of the home and I told her they were going to have to jump," said Matthews. "She told me she couldn't jump and that was when I ran across the street to get my ladder."

On his way to getting his ladder Matthews yelled to his 15 year-old son Nicolas to assist him. "By the time I got the ladder Nicolas was already outside. He was barefoot with nothing but shorts on. He grabbed the ladder from me and ran across the street."

"We then put the ladder up to the house and started bringing people down from the window," said Matthews.  The other six residents of the house managed to make it out of the house unharmed.
"There were only three people in the house," said Matthews. "The others went out the back door."

"As soon as we got the last person down from the window flames started to shoot up," said Matthews.

Matthews has known the neighbors he helped rescue for over a year. One of the residents rescued was a member of the swim team with his son.

Matthews believes that his military training played an important part in helping him remain calm during his rescue effort.  "With us being in the military, it's in our nature to be alert at all times," said Matthews. Matthews also believes the training he has received at the 174th made it easier for him to think on his feet.

His son, Nicolas, has also had some experience with saving the lives of others. He once saved a friend who fell through the ice in the pond next to their home.

Nicolas Matthews believes that if he and his dad had not been home, the night would have turned out much different.  "They probably wouldn't have made it out," said Nicolas. "If they did it wouldn't have been safely."

"I'm just glad that everyone is all good and healthy," said Brian Matthews. "I'm glad all nine people were not there."

When asked how he feels about his dad's rescue effort, Nicolas said it made him feel proud.  "I'm really proud of him," said Nicolas Matthews. "He definitely acted fast."

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