SAFETY HARBOR, Fla (WFLA) – A teenager saved his grandfather from a Safety Harbor house fire Tuesday. The wood-frame house is located at 233 3rd St. N., which is in the downtown area.
The fire took hold quickly, with flames licking at the trees above. Firefighters responded to the 2-alarm blaze just before 5 p.m.
Firefighters attributed loud explosion noises to propane and acetylene tanks stored on the property. Crews could not save the house. They could only prevent the fire from spreading to other places.
Gino Marino thought he heard firecrackers, but an unusual smell in the air made him change his mind. “We looked out the back. My grandma, she was screaming. She’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God. The house is on fire.’ Steve, he’s in there sleeping,” Marino said.
Steve is Steve Kautz, Marino’s grandfather. Marino kept his grandmother from rushing in to save Kautz. Instead, he did so.
“As soon as I opened the door, pitch black, smoke, couldn’t breathe or anything. I had to take my shirt off, had to put it around my mouth and my eyes. I couldn’t see. My eyes were starting to burn real bad,” Marino said. He ran room to room, calling out Steve’s name. He found him on the floor. Kautz was having trouble breathing.
Marino dragged his grandfather to fresh air. “It was super hot in there, like very, very hot. I couldn’t breathe at all,” Marino said. “Like I was breathing very heavily when I got out. I was in the ambulance for like 20 minutes.”
Paramedics tended to Steve. He will survive.
By night, an eerie glow from fire trucks revealed the smoldering remains. Gone are family memories. But thanks to a heroic teen, what could have been a tragedy will only be a rebuilding project.