A Hero in the Fire

9 years 7 months 1 week ago June 10, 2007 Jun 10, 2007 Sunday, June 10 2007 Sunday, June 10, 2007 9:14:50 PM CDT in News

Dave Rotert, a resident of Columbia, was passing by 2106 Limerick Lane when he saw the second floor engulfed in flames. Seeing his neighbor's house ablaze, and thinking its residents might be in danger, he didn't hesitate to break through the back door and attempt to find them.

"Tried to get up to the second floor," said Rotert. "I could hear a TV up on the second floor, and there was one on on the first floor, so I was afraid somebody was home, decided couldn't make it up, the heat and smoke were too bad. I called 911 and talked to them, was so shook up I couldn't even remember the street that I was on."

Fire fighters say the blaze started around 1 p.m. Before getting out of the fire Rotert managed to save the family's office computer and was able to help firefighters locate their pet dog, which is now safe. The second floor is completely gone, and the first floor is almost completely destroyed. Police originally estimated the damages at $1 million, but have lowered the estimate to $500,000.

No one was in the house when the fire started. The neighbor's house also had a small roof fire, possibly due to the fact that it was made out of cedar wood, a neighborhood homeowner requirement.

"I don't know if it's a contributing factor," said Columbia Fire Department's Training Captain Rick Douglas. "But it doesn't help anything...That's one more thing that will aid in the burning process because it's old wood."

It didn't matter to Rotert however, who believes that the peoples lives were worth the risk.

"If it was me, I'd want somebody to come in and try to help me if I was incapacitated or whatever and I'd just want to have somebody and help me out so I'd do the same," he said.

Investigators say the fire started in an upstairs room, but are still not sure what caused the fire.

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