‘Hearts of Heroes’ to highlight deputy who saved woman from fire
The bravery shown by a Harris County Sheriff Office deputy when he jumped through a window to save a woman from a burning home will be featured on a television show this weekend.
The story of how Deputy Roberto Martinez rescued 63-year-old Eloisa Martinez through a window of her burning home, which was all caught on his bodycam, will be a segment on the show, ‘Hearts of Heroes,’ at noon Saturday on KTRK-13.
The show will cover how the deputy went from window to window until he found Eloisa Martinez before she became a victim of the fire. The show is described as an educational docu-series featuring untold heroic stories of emergency responders in the aftermath of Mother Nature’s most destructive events.
Eloisa Martinez recounted what happened the night fire broke out in her home in the 6500 block of Zaragosa Street in March.
“My husband was supposed to have back surgery that day, so we were expecting company,” Eloisa Martinez said. “I was trying to straighten up the house, so I was up late. I was just about to fall asleep when my daughter-in-law came in and said the house was on fire.”
Eloisa Martinez’s husband got up and discovered the whole front door was on fire.
“We went back into our room, and my son and daughter-in-law and the baby had gotten out. My husband went to put on his shoes, and I was trying to get my purse, when my husband went out the bedroom door. As soon as he did, the lights went out. It became pitch black because of the smoke.”
The Martinez’s son came back inside to look for them, and was able to find the father. Because of shock and the thick smoke, he was not able to locate his mother.
“When I saw the lights go out, I went back into my bedroom,” she said. “I went to try and open a window, and it was stuck. I couldn’t open it. I knew I had put a chest in front of the bathroom window and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to move that over, so I laid on the floor and hoping for someone to come and find me.”
Deputy Martinez was at the nearby Buc-ee’s store when he got the fire call.
“I knew the street because we had been in that neighborhood in the past week,” Deputy Martinez said. “It is dark back in the neighborhood, but the fire was lighting up the street. When I parked, it was like ‘Oh crap, here we go,’ but it wasn’t like I was nervous. It was more like what are my exit strategies? If a propane tank goes off, where will I go and how will take everyone out of danger? I wasn’t thinking about getting hurt. Even during the rescue, I didn’t realize how much smoke I inhaled.”
Eloisa said while on the floor, she suddenly heard someone screaming at one of the windows.
“I could see his flashlight,” she said. “He told me to crawl to the window, and there was a chest in the way, and he pushed it over. It was a good thing I had made it to that part of the house.”
Deputy Martinez said you can never be prepared to deal with an emergency such as rescuing a person from a burning home.
“You just hope your training kicks in, and you do what you are supposed to do,” Deputy Martinez said. “Someone told me she was in there. I went to two to three windows. I am not a tall guy, but for some reason, I was able to get my hand in through a window. And as soon as I was able to knock over this chest, I felt her hand, and I just yanked her out of there.”
Eloisa Martinez said she jumped into the deputy’s arms and was carried to the street. Both were later treated for smoke inhalation but did not sustain any other injuries.
“He was the first deputy to arrive on the scene,” she said. “He was the one that saved my life. At that point, I didn’t even know how I was going to get out. I just couldn’t reach any area to get out. But he saved me. He was my hero.”
Eloisa Martinez said fire marshals have not determined how the fire started but it was possibly electrical.
In the months following, Eloisa Martinez and her family have struggled to find another place to live. They had lived in the trailer for 21 years. She is just now getting an apartment but said that doesn’t replace the things she lost in the fire.
“I couldn’t save any of my stuff,” she said. “I worked for Verizon for years. But, I was laid off and was not able to get another job. Everything I had was what I worked for 34 years, and it was all gone.”
She is still seeking donations through a GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/f/7e43uf-house-fire.
Despite the hardships connected with the fire, Eloisa Martinez says she still believes in miracles.
“People need to know there is always the other story,” she said. “In all of the tragedies, there is something positive.”
Deputy Martinez said the biggest thing he hopes people will take from the incident, as well as the show, is furniture placement in their homes.
“(The fire) made me think about a lot of safety tips on how to rearrange your furniture in case of a fire,” he said. “What if you needed a step stool? Also, do not block your windows. If I hadn’t pushed over that cabinet, I don’t think Mrs. Martinez would have even gotten out of there.”