A Kennewick man would be dead if his neighbors and two teens didn't use hoses to douse his burning home, a fire official said Tuesday.
Firefighters pulled Steven Murphy, 67, from his house at 702 E. Seventh Ave. right as he was about to lose consciousness, Deputy Chief Mark Yaden said.
The blaze -- believed to be started by a cigarette -- broke out at Murphy's home around 2:20 a.m. Tuesday, Yaden said. He was taken to Kennewick General Hospital, where he was treated for burns and smoke inhalation, Yaden said. He was in stable condition Tuesday night.
Miguel Lopez, 18, and his friend Eric Limon, 19, dropped a friend off in Kennewick and were headed home when they saw flames shooting from Murphy's house.
"The flames were touching the tree in front of his house," Lopez said. "You could see the tree was catching on fire. You could hear it sizzling."
Lopez pulled his car over and called 911. Limon got out and started walking around the house looking for a hose, he said.
Around the same time, Steven Jeter, 38, and his girlfriend Cristy Hubbell, 38, were sleeping next door. Hubbell's three kids were playing on the computer and smelled smoke coming from their neighbor's house.
The kids woke up Jeter and Hubbell, and they ran next door.
"When I got to the front of the house I saw flames," Jeter said. "I went to the side of the house and punched through a window and yelled for Steve."
While Lopez was on the phone with a 911 operator, Jeter grabbed an irrigation hose from his yard. He started spraying the hose through Murphy's window while someone else got another hose and went to the back of the house.
"It was pretty scary," Jeter said. "I am ducking down because the smoke that was billowing out was intense. I just kept aiming at the base of the flames."
The smoke coming out of the front door and windows made it hard to tell if anyone was inside, Limon said.
"We circled the house and called out names to see if anybody was in there," he said. "We thought we heard someone, but we weren't sure."
The group had the flames under control by the time firefighters arrived, Yaden said. Firefighters knocked the front door down and got Murphy out.
The teens were surprised to see that someone was being pulled from the house alive.
"He looked OK," Lopez said. "He had some burns. It was good just seeing it was him and he was alive."
The fire started in Murphy's bedroom and spread into a hallway, Yaden said. He had collapsed outside of his bedroom while trying to escape.
"It's pretty obvious he was never going to make it out of the house," Yaden said. "Thankfully for him, the citizens' help kept him alive."
Yaden estimated there is more than $50,000 in damage to Murphy's house. There were no working smoke detectors in the house, he said.
Jeter believes he was just doing his neighborly duty when he rushed over and broke out Murphy's window.
"My girlfriend and I were just doing what we hope any neighbor would do for us," he said. "I don't feel like a hero."
The teens were also reluctant to accept praise. They were just glad to know that Murphy made it out of the fire, they said.
"It felt really good knowing we helped save a life," Lopez said.
w Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Ty_richardson