Michael Vargo didn’t hesitate to provide a helping hand — or in this case his outstretched arms — to a woman who was in danger on Thursday afternoon.
The South Bend street and lighting employee happened to come upon a house fire about 2 p.m. at 219 E. Indiana Ave. and saw a woman on the second floor screaming and banging on a window to get out.
Vargo and other neighbors ran to the home to try to help.
Vargo said he convinced the woman to kick out the window and climb out onto the roof more than 10 feet off the ground.
“She was panicked on the roof,” Vargo recalled. “I exaggerated and told her I was 6 (foot) 5 and I wouldn’t drop her. She leaped into my arms and I had her by the waist, and we got her to safety. She passed out from emotions.”
By that time, Vargo said smoke was coming from that window.
Vargo shrugged off any talk of him being a hero or good Samaritan, as he hesitantly agreed to being interviewed.
“It was a spur of the moment what would you do thing,” he said.
The woman, identified as Jerri Oesch, was taken to an area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. She was treated and released.
Two other people who were on the first floor were able to get to safety on their own.
It is unclear what sparked the fire at the home on the city’s southeast side. The cause and origin is currently under investigation, said South Bend Fire Marshal Federico Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said he could not say whether the structure was a total loss, although significant damage was visible, as flames were reported coming from an east side door of the home and smoke had filled the house.
Several fire units were able to make the scene quickly because they were coming back from a training drill.
Rodriguez credited Vargo and the other neighbors for helping get Oesch to safety.
“Well, I have to admit she was really panicking,” he said. “It was either she jumps into his arms, and that saved her from getting seriously hurt.”
Staff writer Tom Moor: