Heroes of fire on Tucson's west side honored

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Last week a west side fire could have turned out much worse.  Two young girls couldn't escape through a window screen as their mother lay passed out.

But the quick reaction of a neighbor who heard them and firefighters who rescued the mother, made sure no one died that day.

Jaime Velasco had to hop over a wall and knock out a screen to get Lisa and Grace out of their burning home.

"I am happy to see the family and I saw the mom yesterday and we had a real emotional visit so it was really, really good," said Velasco.

Velasco tried to save the girls' mother Lissien Lin as well, but the smoke was just too thick.

Captain Fred Bair from Tucson Fire arrived just in time and rescued Lin.

"I found her and when I saw her face and her gasping for air it really had an impact on me," said Bair.

Lin and her family were all smiles as they greeted Velasco and Bair Monday.

For his actions the Tucson Fire Department awarded Velasco with the citizens award for distinguished service to the community.

"I feel really special right now.  And I am glad that my friends and family came and I have gotten a lot of phone calls," said Velasco.

"He's a true hero in this.  His family has a real reason to be proud of that man.  I am proud of him," said Bair.

Velasco's family is definitely proud of him and so are his new friends for life.

"I felt really proud of my dad and of course I told everyone at school," said Velasco's son Daniel Chavez.

"Jamie and Fred saved my family.  Without them my family couldn't survive," said the father of Grace and Lisa, Wei-Cheng Tung.

Normally Velasco would have received the award next year, but since he put his life on the line to save two young girls, Tucson Fire decided to give it to him Monday for his extraordinary rescue.