Passerby saves sleeping roommates, pets from house fire

Man driving by saw smoke coming out of the house

Rheece Kahawai saved two people from a house fire, June 29 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A passerby saved two people and their pets from a house fire in SE Portland early Thursday morning.

A house on SE Tacoma Street was damaged by fire early Thursday morning, June 29 2017. (KOIN)

Rheece Kahawai tells KOIN 6 News he was driving on SE Tacoma Street at 18th Avenue when he saw smoke coming from the window of a house.

“I was driving up the road and I saw black smoke coming out of the room. I immediately turned around and went up to the house to knock on the door,” Kahawai says. A man who had been sleeping answered the door and realized that the house was on fire.

“I was pretty close to breaking that door if no one had answered,” Kahawai says. He even helped the man look inside in case a roommate was home, but thankfully he had already made it out.

“He said his roommate might be inside so I helped look for him but the black smoke was heavy and I couldn’t breathe,” he says.

“I’m just lucky I came by and saw it, I’m glad he’s OK,” Kahawai says. “There were a few people that kind of looked at the house and just drove by like it was nothing. I took it to heart to where I had to stop by, who knows who could be in there,” he says.

Portland Fire and Rescue Captain Caleb Currie said Kahawai helped save their lives.

“That bystander was pivotal in the safety of not only the occupants but the pets, because it gave them time to get out safely before the fire got bigger,” Cpt. Currie tells KOIN 6 News.

Cpt. Currie says investigators haven’t determined what caused the fire in the back bedroom.

A house on SE Tacoma Street was damaged by fire early Thursday morning, June 29 2017. (KOIN)