Edmonton man reflects on running into burning home to save neighbour

In his Metallica T-shirt and flip-flops, a Slurpee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, Dale Parkin doesn’t look like a typical hero.

But, sporting a new haircut, he kind of looks like he could play one in the movies.

“I’m the furthest thing from a hero,” Parkin said as he squinted in the sunshine. “Somebody called for help and I just reacted.”

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Parkin was squinting at what used to be his neighbour’s home in Edmonton’s Holyrood neighbourhood. Now, the two-storey townhouse is just a charred frame surrounded by a safety fence. Appliance skeletons can be seen through broken windows, while almost everything else is ash.

“It’s something that’s never going to leave my mind,” Parkin said.

“It was a scary situation.”

At 6:30 a.m. on Friday, Parkin was leaving his townhouse for work at Titan Supply when he noticed smoke and heard someone crying for help.

When he arrived at the home, he could see flames in the first-floor window. Two women were outside the second-floor window on a ledge above the front door. They were screaming about a man still in the basement.

Another neighbour, Charles McDonald, arrived then as well. He brought a ladder to get the women down to safety. Parkin broke down the front door.

“The smoke was too thick,” Parkin said. “The fire was just too big, too hot.”

READ MORE: 2 people hospitalized after fire consumes Holyrood rental unit in east Edmonton

Watch below: (From May 17, 2019) Raw video sent to Global News shows people jumping into action to help rescue the people inside a Holyrood neighbourhood townhouse, which went up in flames Friday morning.

While McDonald manned the ladder, Parkin took off to the back door. Both men noted seeing the couch in the living room on fire. Edmonton Fire Rescue Services confirmed that the fire was started by an improperly disposed cigarette inside the home.

“Dale is the real hero,” said McDonald. “He actually went inside.”

Parkin arrived at the backyard where a young couple had just climbed down a tree to safety. They confirmed there was a man still in the basement.

While another neighbour kicked through the basement window, Parkin broke down another door and called for the man in the basement to come up the stairs.

“I could see his feet. I could see he was walking around — doing a little stumble — and I think he was lost in the smoke,” Parkin said. “I knew he was right by the fridge [and] I just ran straight in. I ran until I hit him. I couldn’t see him.

“Then I just grabbed him and just backed out of the back door and went to work.”

That’s right, he rescued a man from a burning building and carried on to work. He was gone by the time firefighters arrived.

“I didn’t want to be late,” Parkin said.

And he wasn’t. Firefighters tracked him down to make sure he wasn’t injured.

“That’s from going through the door,” Parkin said, showing off a black bruise on his left arm. “Either the front or the back — maybe both.”

That’s all he has to show for the whole ordeal. That, and his movie star haircut.

“All the hair was singed,” Parkin said as he ran his fingers across his hairline and beard.

In total, five people escaped with their lives Friday morning. Parkin said he didn’t know them before then. He still hasn’t talked to them now.

“I hope they’re doing well,” he said. “I hope there’s no issues.”

The manager of the complex said the five people are OK and staying with family.

Parkin hopes to meet them one day, but insists they shouldn’t call him a hero.

“Anyone in the same situation would have done the same thing, he said. “Somebody needed help. You go help.”