Man dubbed ‘hero’ after helping alert neighbors of life-threatening fire

Man dubbed ‘hero’ after helping alert neighbors of life-threatening fire
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 10:27 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A fire that burned a Northeast Anchorage apartment complex Sunday afternoon left multiple people displaced, with hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal property lost, according to prosecutors involved with the case against the man accused of lighting the blaze.

In the days since the inferno, residents have said the fire was scary, but could’ve been worse if not for the efforts of the Anchorage Fire Department, as well as one other individual who helped others in the face of danger.

“I don’t know his name, but he’s awesome,” recounted Skyler Dipola, a victim of the apartment fire. “He was banging on everyone’s door, making sure that everyone was out, he opened a few of the doors to make sure no one was inside.”

Dustin Herring lives with his wife and son across the street from where the fire happened. On Sunday, Herring and his wife rushed over to the apartment building while it was on fire and started banging on doors and windows to let people know they were in the midst of an emergency.

“It was pretty intense and it was weird because we didn’t hear any smoke detectors or anything like that, so, all the people that were answering had no idea,” Herring said. “The whole place was on fire at that point.”

Herring said he was yelling for everyone to get out and was amazed at how fast the fire spread across three floors.

Herring didn’t stop there, as he noticed all the people in the building quickly went from high heat to freezing cold temperatures. With that in mind, the Herring family brought blankets, shoes, and clothes over to help their neighbors stay warm.

“It really hit me, those people are coming out of the place and they have nothing,” Herring said.

“He ended up going around to everyone that was outside, giving blankets and everything, tried handing out hoodies, extra shoes he had and socks, stuff like that,” DiPola said.

DiPola says Herring didn’t only make things a little easier after the fire, he believes Herring probably saved lives that day as well.

“I’m grateful that everyone made it out,” recalled Priscilla DiPola, mother to Skyler and another victim of the fire. “That’s a big concern, you know, making sure that lives aren’t perished. Items — they can be replaced, anything else can be replaced — but a life can’t. I’m glad that nobody lost it.”

“That’s how I would want someone to treat me, you know,” Herring said. “So do unto your neighbor as you would want them do to you, you know.”