NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – A man is in the hospital with injuries considered to be life-threatening after a fire tore through two apartment units in Noblesville Thursday night.
The Noblesville Fire Department (NFD) was called to the Pebble Brook Village Apartments just before 8:45 p.m. for an apartment fire. They said first units to arrive were met with heavy fire and smoke and they found a victim lying in front of the apartment.
According to NFD, the victim, a 57-year-old man, had been pulled from his apartment and dragged to safety by a neighbor.
Fire officials told FOX59 News the actions of neighbor DJ Davis were the reason the man has a fighting chance to survive. The victim suffered serious burn injuries and was transported to a local burn center for further treatment.
Davis, who has only lived in the apartments since October, said he was in his kitchen eating dinner Thursday night when he heard two people banging on the door across the hall from his apartment.
One of those people knocking on doors was Kayla Farber, who lives in a nearby unit in the same building. She was walking her dog when she, along with another neighbor, heard the fire alarm and spotted the flames in the man’s apartment.
“I looked over and you could see it in the window,” said Farber.
“I ran up and started banging on the door and I kind of went from the front door to the patio door a couple of times,” Farber explained.
Other neighbors, including Davis, heard the commotion and worked to help alert residents to the fire. When Davis approached the victim’s apartment, he said he knew he needed to act fast to help get him out.
“I saw the flames and I just started beating on his door like ‘hey, you gotta get out there’s a fire,'” he said.
“I tried to go grab my fire extinguisher to go over to the patio where the fire was the most,” said Davis, “The window popped right in front of me, so I dumped the fire can in there and it didn’t do anything.”
With a ticking clock, Davis ran back around to the front door of the apartment and used his body to break it open.
“I just went over and broke the door down and he was right behind it,” Davis told FOX59. “That’s when I just tried to get him to move over out from behind the door because I couldn’t go in the building because it was so hot.”
Davis said he couldn’t get the man off the floor, so he did the next best thing he could think of to help get him out of the apartment and away from the flames.
“I just grabbed his ankles and tried to pull him out,” Davis said. “I got him outside the door and then the heat just burst and I tried to go back a second time to pull him a little bit further, but I couldn’t do anything that time because of the heat.”
He said he got him far enough away that he was safe from the smoke and flames, but Davis said the conditions overwhelmed him quickly.
“I just walked a few feet and hit the ground because of my physical exertion. I’m not the healthiest person ever,” he said.
When asked whether he thought twice about running towards the danger, he said, no. “That’s part of my upbringing, I guess, being born and raised military brat.”
A friend of Davis’ said she’s not shocked by what he did and calls his actions heroic.
“When it comes to his character and how he’s always been very fast, quick acting when it comes to helping someone, I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Elizabeth Egan. “He’s got a good heart, he genuinely cares about people, strangers, and he’s always willing to help.”
Davis said he’s not a hero, and that it was truly a team effort by all of the neighbors who knocked on doors and helped get people out of their apartments.
“It was just more of a group effort than anything,” Davis said.
Officials confirmed a dog died in the fire Thursday.
Davis said, “I feel bad for him, I feel bad for the family upstairs that lost their dog because of this.”
“If I knew the dog was upstairs, I would have tried to go up there and get the dog,” he said. “I just tried to do something as best as I could do it.”
Davis is also displaced because of the fire. He was allowed back into his apartment, which suffered smoke damage, to get a few bags of clothes before he returned to his temporary unit the complex offered him to stay in.
NFD said the cause of the fire and its origin remain under investigation.
Westfield Fire Department and the Noblesville Fire Department also responded to the scene Thursday to assist.