RALEIGH (WTVD) --On his drive home from a 24-hour shift at Raleigh's Fire Station 29 Sunday, Lt. Justin Rose spotted a plume of smoke in a nearby neighborhood.
Turning off Creedmoor Road and down Lynnoak Drive, he found he was the first one on the scene of an intense house fire.
When a man out front told Rose his mother was still inside the house, Rose ran in after her.
"I did not realize at the time that he came into the house who he was," said Ann McLamb, standing outside her scorched home days later. Debris is still scattered across the driveway and caution tape surrounds her yard.
Rose has spent 13 years running inside burning buildings, but Sunday was the first time he did it wearing only a sweatshirt and jeans. Making his way through thick smoke toward the back of the house, he found McLamb trying to reach her two dogs.
"She wasn't gonna leave," he said. "She was dead set on staying there with her dogs."
"He said you get out! You get out! I've got them!" McLamb said.
As Rose scooped up the dogs, McLamb turned and started heading for the door. As soon as he ushered her safely across the street, Raleigh's Engine 18 was turning the corner.
Rose stayed and helped hook their hose to the hydrant. Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the flames they said sparked in the garage when flammable liquids caught fire during vehicle maintenance before spreading to the second floor and attic space.
"Pleased," said White of his reaction to one captain's email praising Rose's actions. "Not surprised at all. Not surprised, but just how fortunate he was to be in the right place at the right time to help."
As Rose's colleagues are calling him a hero, he insists it was a case of good timing.
"It just happened to be me," he said. "They'd have done the same thing. I mean without a doubt in my mind. It's just that mentality's in us as firefighters and it's what we're gonna do."
There's no doubt for McLamb though, that at least this time, he was her hero.
"He was extraordinary to come into a house that was burning like it was," she said. "I'm very grateful and I thank God for him."
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