Guard Soldier helps family from burning home

Guard Soldier helps family from burning home

Army Pfc. Samuel Pineda, an infantryman and member of the Arizona Army National Guard’s Honor Guard, practices folding an American flag. Pineda assisted a neighbor’s family to safety when their residence caught fire Aug. 26.

PEORIA, Ariz. – An Arizona National Guard Soldier drew on his military training when he assisted a family from their burning home, here Aug. 26.

Army Pfc. Samuel Pineda, an infantryman with the 158th Infantry Battalion, returned to his residence near the 8600 block of Malapai Drive in Peoria when he saw smoke bellowing from the front of a neighbor’s home.  As he approached the residence he saw two young girls running back and forth near the front door in a panic.

“They told me the house was on fire and someone was inside,” said Pineda. “That’s when my training and instincts kicked in.”

Pineda immediately called 911. He saw flames growing near the front of the house so he ran to the back of the home to locate the occupants.

“As an infantryman we are trained to act calm during intense situations,” said Pineda. “I knew I had to act fast and take action. If I did not do something people could be hurt or worse.”

Shouting through a window, Pineda made contact with the people inside and directed them to the backyard, away from the flames near the front door. From atop the backyard wall, Pineda helped a teenager climb over into a neighboring yard. The father of the children handed his 6-year-old son to Pineda and he handed the child over to his older brother. Pineda then assisted the father over the backyard wall and led them to safety before first responders arrived to combat the blaze.

On the day of the fire local media reported “a mystery neighbor” helped the family escape the burning home. A witness said Pineda immediately jumped the wall surrounding the back yard to assist the family out of the house.

Pineda has been a member of the Arizona Army National Guard for two years. He attended basic combat training and infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga. Training experienced there, such as reacting to enemy contact, helps condition soldiers like Pineda to critically think and take action during high stress situations.   

“I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time,” Pineda said. “Once the police arrived I did not want to be in the way so I provided my contact information to the officer and left. I feel sad that the family’s home was damaged but happy that no one was hurt.”

The City of Peoria Fire Department recently contacted Pineda and is organizing a ceremony to recognize him for his valiant efforts that day.