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Off-duty officer jumps into action to save man from burning Herriman home

Posted at 11:43 AM, Apr 06, 2023

HERRIMAN, Utah — An off-duty officer for the Granite School District was in the right place at the right time when he saved a man from a burning building in Herriman.

Officer Philip Afonso was taking advantage of his day off on Saturday to run errands when he noticed heavy black smoke coming from an area near 14300 South and Sentinel Ridge Blvd.

When Afonso got closer to the smoke, he realized it was coming from an attached garage that was fully engulfed in flames.

“It was just black with dark heavy smoke,” Afonso said in a press release. “The garage was already starting to meltdown; the flames were really heavy and there was nobody on the street just yet."

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Photos and videos of the fire and damage show wild flames pouring out of the garage and a thick black cloud of smoke billowing toward the sky.

Afonso explained that he knew the fire had been burning for a while before he got there but doubted residents knew about it considering it started in the garage.

After hearing popping noises and small explosions from the garage, Afonso jumped into action, running into the townhome and searching for any occupants.

A man in his 30s came down the stairs from the second floor and was surprised to learn there was a significant fire just a few steps away from where he stood.

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The man, who was not identified, seemed confused and said there were other residents in the home, but upon investigation, Afonso said it was clear the man was the only occupant.

“There was lots of smoke, and it was really hot, and I told the man ‘we’re leaving - we’re getting out,’” Afonso said in a press release.

Afonso and the man got out of the home when all of a sudden the garage "exploded" and the second floor of the home collapsed.

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"Had I not arrived when I did and helped that man out of the house, it’s likely he wouldn’t have made it out alive,” he said.

Fire crews with the Unified Fire Authority arrived at the scene shortly after the collapse and were able to extinguish the blaze.

Afonso was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation and said the entire experience was "enlightening."

“I know what my job means, and I know what it entails, but nobody can prepare you until you actually experience what it means to do something for someone else and that your life might be on the line," he said. "It enlightened me knowing what my job means and I’m honored to do it.”