James John Vlacich

A 53-year-old woman was inside her Ridge, New York, home when a fire broke out in her living room on Jan. 20, 2022. The woman had poor mobility related to several health conditions. Her neighbor, 51-year-old machinist James John Vlacich, was preparing for work when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the woman’s home. He called 911 before he took a fire extinguisher from his garage and ran across the street. He encountered the woman’s roommate outside, who informed him that the woman was still inside. Vlacich approached the home and called for the woman as he attempted to extinguish flames coming from the front door, but ultimately the flames continued to burn. Vlacich ran to the home’s rear door, which entered into a sun porch. Vlacich then moved through the sun porch before entering a sliding door that connected the sun porch to the home’s kitchen, where he encountered black smoke from floor to ceiling. He called out to the woman, who replied and said she could not see anything. Vlacich used the fire extinguisher to briefly clear the smoke and allowed him to see the woman, who was lying on the floor between the living and dining rooms, before the smoke blocked his view. His extinguisher now empty, he discarded it. Smoke forced Vlacich back to the doorway. He went to his hands and knees and crawled 18 feet to the woman. Grasping her by the ankles, he dragged her while retracing his steps. At the sliding door, he stood and cradled the woman, carrying her through the sun porch to safety outside.  Emergency personnel arrived shortly and took the woman to the hospital, where she was treated for second- and third-degree burns, but she recovered. Vlacich was nearly physically exhausted but did not require medical treatment.