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Neighbors race to save man from burning building in Racine

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RACINE — Neighbors in Racine Tuesday afternoon, July 24th raced to save a man trapped on the balcony of a burning building. The Racine Fire Department eventually brought the man down from the balcony. However, the man likely won’t forget his neighbors were willing to risk their lives for him.

Bruce Hansen snapped photos as his neighbors raised a ladder to the balcony.

“They wanted him to jump, but he couldn’t move. He was just hugging the corner, trying to keep away from the flames until somebody could rescue him. People were hosing him off, trying to keep him cool,” Hansen said.

29-year-old Eddie Martinez was at the top of the ladder — the trapped man’s next door neighbor.

Victoria Saldana is Martinez’ cousin, and said Eddie wanted the man to climb down the ladder, but the man couldn’t because of a physical disability from a recent stroke.

When the ladder didn’t work, a front end loader from the Department of Public Works was raised to his balcony.

“They lifted it up for him to try to climb in there, and he wasn’t able to either,” Saldana said.

Racine firefighters eventually carried the man down.

“We don’t want anyone to put themselves in danger, but it was a heroic act on their part to step up and help,” Racine Fire Lt. Mark Polzin said.

The man was taken to the hospital with burns, but Racine Fire officials say his injuries could have been worse, had it not been for the quick actions of neighbors and responders.

Racine Fire officials say the cause of the fire was accidental. The victim hasn’t yet been identified.