ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – It was just after 12:30 a.m. Monday morning when Ricardo Martinez looked out the window at the house across the street.
“I heard some screams,” Martinez said, just hours after putting his own life at risk.
The 16-year-old Highland High School student was spending the night at a friend’s house and making music.
That’s when he heard the frantic commotion outside and ran barefoot out the door.
“I heard voices from the roof, and so what I did was I climbed up the roof and got up there,” Martinez said.
A two-story home on the 400 block of West Goodrich Avenue was belching out fire and thick smoke. Two men who are brothers and longtime residents of the home were trapped inside the second floor.
After Ricardo succeeded in getting one of the brothers to safety and onto the roof, he tried desperately to reach the second man.
“I’m trying to reach for him, yelling his name, like ‘grab my hand!’ But he couldn’t hear me and then his voice faded away. And then I had to get out because there was too much smoke,” Martinez said.
Just moments later, St. Paul Fire Department crews arrived on the scene and raced in to help.
“That’s got to be a difficult decision on his part. But he did the right thing and we are very grateful for him and will be talking to him at a later date,” Assistant Fire Chief, Jim Smith, said.
Firefighters quickly reached the second victim and resuscitated him at the scene.
Sadly, fire investigators say this was no accidental house fire.
“It was definitely an arson fire at this time,” Smith said..
As their investigation continues, Martinez’s mother says she’s not surprised her teenage son saw others in serious need and dropped everything to help.
“I am so proud of you, I’m very proud of him. Big heart. I just thank God you were safe,” Maggie Martinez said.
“It’s just what I feel like somebody would do for me,” Ricardo Martinez said.
The two victims of the house fire are brothers and both remain in Regions Hospital with serious burns and smoke inhalation.
Investigators have a person of interest, whom they believe may be responsible for setting the fire. An arrest could come as early as Tuesday.