The two women sleeping in the RV can thank an alert and courageous groundskeeper who saw the flames from across the street at Katherine Smith School. Jesse Hernandez rescued them. "As they were trying to escape, one of them severely burned her hands and they were not able to get out. They were banging and yelling so Mr. Hernandez somehow pried or got the door open, and actually grabbed the garden hose and extinguished a certain amount of fire before we got there," San Jose Fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez.
Gutierrez says Hernandez took a risk because there could have been a backdraft as he opened the door, which could have knocked him down in a ball of flame. "When he picked up that garden hose and started engaging in firefighting, he potentially risked his life, but it could be that action that also saved the fire from spreading to the home where other people were asleep at the time," Gutierrez. The RV was parked in the driveway of a home just a couple of feet from the garage door.
And, the story doesn't end there. Another life was saved. The two women rescued from the RV knew their 3-month-old female pit bull was still inside. She was found cowering in fear from the fire. A firefighter from Engine 16 went in and found her.
Jesse Hernandez didn't want the spotlight or any praise for being a hero. "He's definitely a hero. He's a hero for sure. We're really proud of him and as I was telling some of the kids about this when I went into the cafeteria, they were all pretty excited for it," Katherine Smith School Principal Aaron Brengard told ABC7 News.
The principal at one of the six schools where Hernandez does maintenance and grounds keeping described him as quiet. No one could convince him to do an interview. "I'm not surprised that he wouldn't want to get on. He probably doesn't want any praise over this. We'll make a big deal about it here at school for him too, but we'll have to surprise him with that," Brengard said.
The reluctant hero is 60-years-old and a 10-year veteran of the Evergreen School District. He did take the rest of the day off and you can be sure he will receive a hero's welcome when he returns to the school Thursday.