Tucson family gives thanks to neighbor for saving their lives

Published: Mar. 15, 2011 at 1:30 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 22, 2011 at 1:28 PM MST
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Tucson Fire Captain Fred Bair hugs the woman he saved while Jaime Velasco looks on.
Tucson Fire Captain Fred Bair hugs the woman he saved while Jaime Velasco looks on.

By Dan Marries - email

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - A Tucson man is being called a hero after saving two young sisters from a burning home.

At an award ceremony at Fire Central on Monday, Tucson Fire Chief Patrick Kelly presented Jaime Velasco with the Citizen Award for Distinguished Service saying, "it is truly through his heroic actions these 3 people are here today and alive."

Kelly was talking about Loi-Sien-Lin and her two daughters, 10-year-old Lisa and 9-year-old Grace. Last Monday night a fire broke out at their home near Speedway and Greasewood.

Velasco went outside and heard the two girls screaming for help. He jumped a wall and rushed to their aid.

"I could hear the little girls calling for their mom. They had opened the window but they couldn't push the screen out so I pulled the screen out and I put them inside the corner (of the backyard)."

Velasco tried to go inside the house to save their mother but couldn't because of the thick smoke.  He says right at that time firefighters arrived on the scene.

"I was screaming at the top of my lungs that there was someone inside the house.  She was inside the bedroom."

Capt. Fred Bair ran into the burning home.  As he crawled through the house on his hands and knees feeling for Loi-Sien-Lin he says he heard a faint sound.

"It was coming from the corner of the bedroom so I crawled over to that area and that's where I could feel the mom and she was curled up in the corner. The sound I was hearing was her gasping for air."

Velasco says he was horrified when he saw Bair carrying Loi-Sien-Lin's limp body out of the house.

"I didn't know she was alive when they brought her out because her body was just hanging down and even her ankles were hanging loose."

A week later, tears of joy streamed down Loi-Sien-Lina's face as she met the men who risked their lives at an awards ceremony at Fire Central where Jaime Valeseco was honored.

"It was a good moment, a special moment for me," Velasco said after getting a hug.

Loi-Sien-Lin's husband, Wei-Cheng, was at work when the fire broke out.  He arrived at the house only to find out his unconscious wife had been rushed to the hospital.

He thanked Bair and Velasco.

"I feel this is good city and people help each other. this is the best city I have ever stayed. I am very appreciative and I will always remember this in all of my life."

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