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Students rescue neighbors from weekend house fire

Nov. 19, 1999

By TRES GARZA

Reporter

Baylor University has had its share of heroes. Four members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity can now add their names to that growing list.

Anthony Hunter, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and an Austin senior, was one of those who helped rescue three people from an apartment building fire on 16th Street early Saturday morning.

'We were finishing up our float for the homecoming parade in the parking lot of Greater New Light Baptist Church,' Anthony said. 'It was about 4:15 in the morning and we saw the fire.'

Anthony and three other members of his fraternity jumped into their car and drove over to the apartment building.

'When we got there, the building was engulfed in flames,' said Demetrice Hunter, an Austin senior. 'We heard sirens so we assumed that help was on the way.'

According to Demetrice, people were standing on their porches looking at the building in shock.

'They were just standing there, yelling that there were people in the building,' he said.

Anthony and Demetrice, along with Rodnei Ferby, a Waco senior, and Charlie Young, a Naples senior, also members of Kappa Alpha Psi, ran to the back of the apartment building.

They saw a man running around asking for help. The man was apparently trying to save his wife, who was trapped on the second floor of the building.

'He was piling up debris to try to reach the window that his wife was standing at,' Anthony said. 'We went up to him and told him that that wasn't a good idea. So we cleared the area and tried to get her to jump. She was scared and didn't want to. Finally, as the fire grew closer to her and the smoke started choking her, she jumped and we caught her.'

While this was going on, Demetrice noticed a 10-month old baby girl on the hood of a car. He ran over to the unclothed infant and wrapped her up, taking care of her.

Once the woman was rescued, Demetrice asked if there were any more people in the building.

'I asked the man three times, but all he said was, 'That's my wife ... where is my baby?'' Demetrice said. 'He seemed to be confused.'

Anthony later learned that two people had died in the fire, but at the time they were unaware of anyone left inside.

'We stood around for about 45 minutes,' Anthony said. 'The police didn't really ask us any questions much, so we ended up leaving, going back to work on the float.'

The overall rescue only took about three minutes.

According to the Waco Fire Department, two other residents of the home were killed, 23-year-old Janie Rios and her 20-month-old daughter, Abby.

There is an ongoing investigation as to the cause of the fire. Authorities said Monday that the fire may have been intentionally been set.

The survivors rescued by the members of Kappa Alpha Psi lived in an adjacent apartment to the victims.