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‘Instinct Kicked In’: Seventy-Year-Old Veteran Hailed a Hero After Pulling Neighbor from Pennsylvania House Fire

A Pennsylvania Marine Corps veteran is being called a hero after he sprang into action to save his neighbor from a Norristown house fire on the morning of March 15.

At around 10 a.m. Monday, 70-year-old James Johnson was on his way home from the bank when he noticed the flames. Johnson called 911 then jumped into action to save his neighbor.

The Norristown Fire Department called Johnson a hero and a “remarkable man” in a Facebook post about the incident.

“The Norristown Fire Department salutes Mr. Johnson for his service to our country and our community,” the statement said.

Seventy-year-old James Johnson was on his way home from a bank when he noticed flames coming from a neighbor’s house. James called 911, then jumped into action to save his neighbor. (Photo: Christie Ileto/Twitter)

Despite his lung issues, Johnson and two boys kicked down the door of the neighbor’s home and rescued a man on the second floor.

“Mr. Johnson then went up the steps and found a man on fire. He grabbed the man around the waist and brought him down the steps and outside, where they used a blanket to put the fire out on the man,” the fire department said on Facebook.

“He was on fire! I said, ‘We got to get him out quick!’ I drug him down the stairs, brought him outside and I’m just putting the fire out in his hair,” said Johnson. He wasn’t wearing any protective gear at the time and told WPVI it wasn’t what he was most concerned about.

“I worried about saving a life,” Johnson said.

Soon afterward, the fire department arrived and extinguished the flames. Johnson’s neighbor was flown to a burn unit at a nearby hospital.

“The modest Mr. Johnson, Marine Corps Veteran, said it was just instinct that kicked in and he did what he had to do,” the department said.

On Monday night, Judge Gregory Scott, who is also a Norristown firefighter, presented Johnson with a certificate for his heroism.

“I appreciate you so much,” Scott told Johnson.

At this time the condition of the man taken to the hospital is unknown. “I’m worried to see how the man is, but I think he’s going to be OK,” Johnson said.

 Johnson also is slated to be recognized by the city at next month’s Municipal Council meeting.

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