Bob Alcombright says he doesn't think of himself as a hero, even after he caught a man who dropped from a second-story window during a raging house fire in Adelphi yesterday, made an attempt to save a woman and then helped two firefighters escape from the flames.
The 42-year-old maintenance worker said later that he'd rather leave fires to firefighters, but added, "It might be interesting to become a part-time fireman someday."
For all practical purposes that day arrived at 7:10 yesterday when the Hyattsville man was driving down Riggs Road in Adelphi at 7:10 a.m., on his way to work at the Promenade apartment complex in Bethesda. He spotted smoke billowing from the front door and flames shooting from the roof of a two-story frame house.
He said he pulled over, jumped from his car and saw a man hanging from a window, "about 10 feet up. His feet were three or four feet from me. I told him to jump, and caught him."
Still waiting for firefighters to arrive, Alcombright yelled for someone to bring him a wet towel so he could rescue a woman who a neighbor told him was inside.
"But she escaped from the back, all covered with blood," Alcombright said.
"He just did the natural thing that people would do," said Tony DeStefano, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire Department.
But the heroics didn't end there. After the firefighters arrived, Alcombright helped Jack Grey and Danny Gemeny lay a hose into the house. Then the living rooom suddenly burst into flames, injuring Grey. The firefighters ran and Alcombright helped them get off the porch and remove their masks.
Grey was treated for burns on the scene.
The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to the Washington Hospital Center with severe burns, cuts and smoke inhalation.
DeStefano said the fire, which started when a lamp fell on a basement couch, took nearly an hour to control and did $100,000 in damage.
Alcombright, who was three hours late for work, said "It never occurred to me that this sort of thing would ever happen. But I guess that's natural."