News & Media

Local 18 Members Called Heroes After Fire Rescue

The Daily News reported on 7/17: “Wednesday seemed like an ordinary workday for Michael Brackin and Darren Arjoon, technicians at Burbank Water and Power, when they arrived at the 300 block of Florence Street to boot a meter for nonpayment.

“Then Brackin went to his utility truck and saw smoke billowing out of an apartment building across the street.

“ ‘As I got closer, I saw flames shooting out of the windows,’ said Brackin, a resident of Lake View Terrace.

“Brackin saw an elderly woman sitting on the stoop of the two-story apartment complex as windows began to blow out from the heat of the inferno.

“Brackin, a 44-year-old father of three, and Arjoon, an apprentice technician, ran toward the distraught woman.

“ ‘She was clearly dazed and was muttering something about her cat,’ Brackin said. The duo urgently carried the woman to safety across the street. The woman was later treated by paramedics, but was not injured.

“Arjoon stayed with her as Brackin unsuccessfully attempted to enter the second floor of the building, but the flames had grown and the heat was unbearable. Brackin started throwing rocks through windows in hopes of getting the attention of others who might still be inside.

“ ‘I knocked on a door downstairs and a young woman answered. She had no idea that there was a fire,’ said Brackin. After taking some belongings, she too, escaped unharmed.

“In all the chaos, Brackin also radioed his office to send firefighters to the scene. Burbank firefighters responded to the blaze on the 300 block of Florence Street at 12:39 p.m., according to authorities.

“ ‘I was scared,’ said neighbor Shirley Miller, who lives a mere 15 feet away from the scorched residence. ‘The Fire Department were here so quick because of those men.’

“ ‘They’re heroes,’ said neighbor Meredith Johnson, 57, who witnessed the rescue from her second-story apartment.

“ ‘I don’t know how they did it,’ Johnson said as she looked at the charred half of the building on Friday.

“ ‘They may not admit it but they are both heroes,’ said Colin Dunleavy, a colleague of Brackin and Arjoon at Burbank Water and Power.

“ Brackin emphatically denies being a hero and insists he only did what came natural.

“ ‘We were fortunate to be somewhere where we were needed. We just decided to go to that location first. It was fate,’ said Brackin, who has been working with Burbank Water and Power for 19 years. ‘I just work for a city I love and couldn’t imagine being anywhere but here.’

“ ‘There’s a lot of neat things that ordinary citizens do that we just don’t know about,’ said Capt. Ron Bell of the Burbank Fire Department, who was unaware of the duo’s efforts that day.

“Damage to the building is estimated at $500,000, with $100,000 in property also being destroyed, according to Bell. No injuries were reported — except one firefighter who was bitten by a cat as he was rescuing it.”