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Tourist jumps out of car to rescue Las Vegas valley woman from burning apartment

Posted at 7:35 PM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 13:06:46-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A tourist is being hailed a hero after saving a Las Vegas valley woman from an apartment fire.

The fire broke out at an apartment complex near Charleston and Nellis boulevards Friday afternoon.

Ralph and Sandra Harris live in Atlanta, Georgia, but were in town for Ralph's fraternity convention. They went to do some sightseeing at Hoover Dam and got lost on the way back.

"My wrong turn was God's right turn," said Ralph, an Army veteran and pastor.

That wrong turn brought Ralph and Sandra to the corner of Charleston and Nellis just as a fire was bursting through a second-floor apartment.

"When I looked, I saw black smoke coming and immediately I said no one is grilling, that's a fire," said Sandra, who began recording the scene. Ralph laid on his car horn to alert anyone inside the building of the fire.

That's when Ralph said he saw a woman emerge on her balcony, just feet from the fire.

"She was waving her hands saying, 'help me, help me, help me," Ralph said.

That's when Ralph went from observer to first responder.

"To see my husband jump out of the car without thinking twice, run into a burning building, jump over a seven or eight foot wall, I was afraid for him. I immediately started praying," said Sandra.

As Sandra prayed, Ralph stood under the balcony, just feet from the flames.

"I told her, ma'am, just come over the ledge and just drop, I'm going to catch you,' and by the time she crawled over the ledge, another African American guy, he came flying up and tried to jump up on the wall and he fell. And by that time she fell in my arms," said Ralph.

Sandra said her husband's bravery led other people to do what they could too.

Ralph made one more rescue -- helping an elderly woman evacuate her ground-floor apartment.

"Just glad that he was able to rescue the couple of people that he did. I expected nothing less than that from my husband. He's amazing. He's my hero even though he would say he's not a hero," said Sandra.

Sandra is right. Ralph said he isn't a hero and he's not interested in accolades either. But he said he's grateful for the turn of events that led them to be in the right place at the right time.

"Thank God for the wrong turn. That's all I can say. Just glad we made the wrong turn because once I scaled the fence I think that's when the other guys said I'm going to go into action as well."

No injuries were reported in the fire.