Rescuers prevent apartment fire tragedy in Vero

Rescuers prevent apartment fire tragedy in Vero

A man in Indian River County is credited with helping his neighbors escape a weekend apartment fire.

At 2 a.m. Saturday, resident Michael Krolman got of the shower and thought he heard someone screaming.

He stepped out of his first floor apartment in Vista Royale in Vero Beach and sensed there was trouble immediately.

"There was smoke everywhere, and I could see fire coming out of the apartment upstairs," said Krolman on Wednesday.

The woman who lived where the fire originated had gotten out of her apartment but was sitting in the stairwell.

"So, I grabbed her and got her down and out of the smoke and away," said Krolman, who then ran to other apartments to alert people to the danger.

Even before firefighters arrived, deputies with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office were on scene also helping residents evacuate.

"Crazy. A rush like no other. After the fire was done you still fill that adrenaline. After that you crash pretty hard," said Deputy Romeo Santana.

Santana, Deputy Cameron White and Sgt. Jeremy Shepherd all carried out six residents from the blazing building.

"If it weren't for the quick actions of these two deputies, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a fatality in the fire," said Shepherd.

Deputy White had to be treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, which he said felt like getting blasted by pepper spray.

"One guy had a wheelchair so we had to wheel him through the pillar of smoke," said White.

The cause is still under investigation by the state fire marshal.

While law enforcement often puts themselves in dangerous situations to protect others, Michael Krolman brushes off suggestions that he's a hero. Despite losing almost everything, he manages to stay upbeat.

"It's the first fire I've ever had. I don't want another one," he chuckled.

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