Freeport firefighter saves family from burning home while off-duty

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Jim Dolan has the story.

A firefighter on Long Island saved the lives of four people this weekend.

Gathas Ballard loves being a firefighter, but he went way above and beyond the call of duty Sunday. In fact, he wasn't even on duty. He was just driving to the firehouse.

"Ended up seeing heavy smoke and fire coming out the house," Ballard said.

At about 9:30 a.m., a fire was spreading from the kitchen through the house. Ballard stopped his car and pushed open the door.

"I forced my way into the house where I met a man on the stairs who was pretty confused about what was going on. I notified him that his house was on fire and he needed to get out of the house. He still didn't know what was going on so I took him by the arm and put him out the house," Ballard said.

That might have been enough for most people and most firefighters. He was without all his equipment and anything to help him breathe and he had just saved a man's life. But he knew at that hour of the morning, there were most certainly people upstairs, so he went back in the house.

"Something told me to go upstairs to see if there were any more residents upstairs, which when I got upstairs there was a woman and two children, I woke them up and said, 'Listen, your house is on fire, just follow me and I'll get you guys to safety,'" Ballard said.

Everyone got out safely. Ballard still wasn't done. He went to the firehouse down the street and they all came back and put the fire out.

"What a great deed," said Mayor Robert Kennedy, Village of Freeport.

Monday, the mayor and fire chief thanked Ballard for his heroism, bringing four people to safety. But, you know, that's what firefighters do.

"You think about yourself last," Ballard said.
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