VIRGINIA

Centreville neighbors that banded together, being hailed as 'heroes'

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Five neighbors are being hailed as "heroes" after rescuing two women from a burning home. The fire happened late June in Centreville—but, Thursday, those who sprung into action were given special honors.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department presented the heroes with life-saving awards. These guys and gals say they did what anyone should do when trouble comes knocking on their door.

Not everyone is like this bunch—not everyone knows how to keep a cool head in a hot situation.

“This is not being hero. Not whatsoever. This is people who need to help each other,” said Said Benayed, who is a recipient of a life-saving award.

Benayed says he was at the right place at the right time. He left work early on June 22nd. When he pulled into his neighborhood on Hoskins Hollow Circle—something unusual came into view.

“I start to see the cloud. Almost [looked like] something start[ed] to get dark,” Benayed said.

“We noticed the smoke and we all went running,” said award recipient Deborah Shankle.

Deborah Shankle and her four neighbors began banging on people's doors. A fire was growing behind a townhouse. Authorities say it started by accident. They believe someone passing through tossed a cigarette into the mulch.

“I think everybody had something in common, which is the ability to react under pressure,” said award recipient Ashley Osterday.

They were really put under pressure--when they discovered an elderly woman, bed-ridden, inside one of the homes filling with smoke.

“I went inside to help Said carry the lady while Deborah bring the wheelchair,” said award recipient Al Hussein Wanas.

The other ladies got her daughter out. They say surviving this fire together not only magnified their neighborly love—it also got them thinking how to prevent another tragedy.

“It has made us more concerned about the safety of our own homes. We checked the fire alarms and some of them don't work properly,” said award recipient Zoe Shankle.

Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in the fire.

Among the neighbors who came to the rescue was an off-duty firefighter. He alerted his crew after seeing the smoke. It took them about 30 minutes to put out the blaze.

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