Peoria County men save 2 lives in house fire

PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Two Peoria County men are being hailed as heroes Sunday for their actions at the scene of a house fire before emergency responders were able to arrive.

Eric Arnold was driving by a home in the 14000 block of West Smithville Road when he saw a group of people standing in the front yard watching smoke pour out of the home, according to the Peoria County Sheriff's Office. Arnold could have kept driving, police said, but instead stopped to verify that everyone had made it out of the home safely.

Not everyone had.

Arnold and a neighbor, Richard Hess, learned the homeowner, who uses a wheelchair, was still inside. Arnold broke a window, jumped into the burning home and helped the wheelchair user out of the home along with Hess.

The pair saved two lives, authorities said, though they didn't provide details on the second occupant left inside. Fire crews didn't arrive on the scene until after Arnold, Hess and the two occupants made it safely out of the home.

"A sincere thank you to both Eric and Rich," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post. "You are true heroes!"
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