BRISTOL – A local resident was recognized by city officials Thursday evening for his role in courageously putting his safety in jeopardy to make sure a neighbor got out of a burning house.
Pablo Guzman pleaded for about five minutes with a nearby neighbor whose house was on fire to get the man safely out of the home on Nov. 7, around 5 p.m. The neighbor, identified as Rodney Michele, had his own fire extinguisher and was attempting to put out the kitchen fire, not realizing at the time the flames had already started extending behind the cabinets and climbing to the second floor and roof area.
“I was at the fire scene that night and found it very heartwarming to speak to the neighbors and how everyone knew each other, and were concerned,” Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said Friday. “Pablo didn’t hesitate to act, and that action itself is what helps to define quality of life in a community: people who care and look out for their neighbors.”
Guzman Thursday evening was honored at a Fire Commission meeting with an All Heart Certificate and a Citizen’s Commendation from the fire department. Zoppo-Sassu, who has been in quarantine following a potential exposure to covid-19, joined Michele in virtually tuning in to the meeting to look on as Guzman received his recognitions in the City Hall Council Chambers.
Though Michele did not speak during the virtual meeting, he looked on with a smile as he and his son watched Guzman.
According to city officials, Guzman, who resides at 32 Vance Road, was outside checking his car when he noticed the home at 19 Vance Road was ablaze. He ran into his home to let his wife know what was happening before sprinting to the burning home to check on Michele.
Michele, holding a fire extinguisher, was eventually convinced by Guzman to abandon the home as conditions worsened. Throughout the minutes of pleading with him to leave the home, Guzman remained in the house until he made sure his neighbor was out of harm’s way.
“It was almost like an action movie,” Acting Mayor Brittany Barney said. “This is the stuff we’re looking for in our community. We really appreciate your bravery.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.