High school freshman Marcos Ugarte didn't think twice about sprinting down the street to help rescue a family of five, including two young children, who were trapped in their burning home. Giving a helping hand is second nature for Marcos, the 14-year-old's father said.
The fire broke out in the second-story bedroom of a 7-year-old boy at home in Troutdale, Ore., Monday at about 10 p.m., Gresham Fire Battalion Chief Mark Maunder said. Marcos and his dad, Eduardo Ugarte, were sitting on the couch in their home four doors away when they heard screaming down the street.
"As soon as we realized it [the screaming] was coming from the house down the street, I assumed they were just arguing," Ugarte said. "I said to Marcos, 'Let's just leave them alone.' But Marcos said, 'No Dad, look at the glow behind the house.'"
Ugarte and Marcos took off running for their neighbors' house where a family of five, including a grandmother and two children, were trapped inside. The father of the home tried numerous times to get upstairs to rescue his son, Cody, but was unable to reach him through the thick smoke.
"When I arrived at the door of our neighbor's house, he [neighbor] was stumbling down the stairs because he had been completely engulfed in flames," Ugarte said. "He had soot coming out of his nose and his mouth, he had just ingested so much of it."
Ugarte ran into the house and crawled to the room where the neighbor's son was trapped. He crawled across the floor but the 7-year-old had locked himself in his room. The smoke was so thick, Ugarte couldn't stand.
"The boy has ADD [attention deficit disorder] and he decided to run into another bedroom on the second floor and locked the door so whether he was scared or just trying to hide from the fire we're not sure," fire chief Maunder said.
When Ugarte, a 47-year-old teacher, came back empty-handed, the grandmother of the young boy was trying to pull a ladder from the backyard. Marcos grabbed the ladder and climbed to the second floor to the boy's room. He burst through the window and rescued the boy trapped inside.
"I took the ladder, and I propped it up on the window, and I crawled up the window and punched the screen out and grabbed the 7-year-old boy -- about 7, he looked 7 -- and grabbed him and carried him down the ladder," Marcos told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV shortly after the rescue.
When Ugarte saw Marcos climbing into the burning home, he was in shock.
"There was just so much adrenaline going on," Ugarte told ABC News. "This doesn't surprise me that he just takes initiative and gets the job done. He is in my eyes a true hero."
The Ugartes had never met the victim's family before. They shared a smile and a hello on the street, but never had a conversation. No one was hurt in the fire, although the boy was sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation and later released. Authorities are still investigating what started the fire.
But showing kindness to others is nothing new for Marcos. He assists with the care of his two brothers, who both suffer from kidney failure.
"He [Marcos] has always gone through life with this difficult sense of why did I get spared? Why did I not get this disease?" Ugarte said.
Ugarte is proud of his son and that he was the hero for their young neighbor.
"I think it's awesome," Ugarte said. "I hope that he would perhaps through this recognize that God has a purpose for him."