Off-duty Corrections Officer Ugur Akilli’s neighbors sure are thankful he’s around. Their New Jersey home caught fire, and the former volunteer firefighter rushed inside to save them.
He says, anyone would have done the same thing. The 33-year-old officer saved four kids and the grandparents from the two-story home.
Akilli received a plaque in a ceremony at the South Woods State Prison. Union President Mike Gallagher gave him the award for his bravery and courage.
He’s an outstanding officer. He’s sharp … and he’s a lifesaver now. He’s a hero. We’re trained at the academy to run towards danger, not away … he went in, and that training saved lives.”Mike Gallagher
Jumping into Action
When Akilli saw the fire, he was walking out of his home. He called over to another neighbor telling him to dial 911, and proceeded to run into the home.
By the time he got over there, another neighbor was knocking on the door attempting to alert the residents of the home. Akilli didn’t wait.
“The fire was spreading rapidly, so I burst through the front door and grabbed the 5-year-old-girl. I yelled for everyone to get out of the house as I ran her to safety.”Ugur Akilli
As the fire moved quickly as Akilli grabbed the grandparents and the other children. He said, “In five minutes, that house was engulfed.”
The homes residents were shocked at what happened. According to Akilli, “They had no idea the garage was on fire … I was just grabbing them and pushing them out of their own house.”
His neighbor, Rony Salvatierra helped Akilli pull the family members to safety. He said that the doors of the garage were warping when they first saw the flames.
Salvatierra is grateful that Akilli lives on their block. Thankfully all the family members were close to one another in a central location.
The grandparents were watching the kids while the parents were at work. The family is now staying with their relatives and will build their home again.
Just Doing His Job
Akilli was a volunteer firefighter for three years, He has gone into burning buildings before and has all the necessary training.
He says he was just doing what he was trained to do. Whether it was his training or basic instict, saving that family was the right thing to do.