-- The good Samaritan who was captured on camera pulling a California man from his burning home says it was “just an instinct” to run into the flames.
“You see something and you just help out people,” Thomas Artiaga told ABC station KFSN-TV in Fresno.
Artiaga happened to be on a residential road in Fresno Saturday when he saw a two-unit apartment building up in flames.
Stuck at the back of the building was Robert Wells, whose daughter, Denise Francis, was screaming for help in the front yard.
“He heard that and he just did it,” Francis said of Artiaga’s running to her dad’s aid. “I’m real thankful for Thomas.”
The now-viral video of the moment shows Artiaga running away from the house with Wells over his shoulder. Artiaga left the scene after the rescue and his identity remained a mystery for days.
Wells was able to thank Artiaga in person Monday for saving his life.
“He’s one of those good Samaritans that’s hard to find anymore,” said Wells, who met Artiaga at the local hotel where Wells and his family have been staying since being displaced by the fire.
Artiaga stepped in to help Wells as two other good Samaritans were trying to move him.
“We were carrying him out, and that’s when we were passing the garage … and just an explosion out of nowhere,” one of the men, 22-year-old Michael Alcala, told ABC News.
It was at that moment that Artiaga, wearing a Dodgers baseball hat, stepped in.
“I seen you by the fence and see that you couldn’t walk too good,” Artiaga told Wells, “so my first reaction was to grab you and pick you up.”