Arriving home a few minutes earlier than he'd planned, Salvador Ortiz noticed smoke spilling out of his elderly neighbor's home on Esperanza Way on Monday afternoon, reported the North County Times. Without a second thought, the Escondido resident did what he hopes someone would do for his mother, hundreds of miles away in Cuernavaca, Mexico -- he saved his neighbor's life.
"I had no time to think. My priority was Frieda," Ortiz told the paper, referring to his longtime next-door neighbor Frieda Goldberg, who he said he scooped up and carried to safety.
Goldberg -- a woman Ortiz said he cares for like his own mother, speaking with her each morning, even taking out her trash -- suffered minor smoke inhalation and was visibly shaken by the fire, neighbors and firefighters said.
The blaze was reported just before 3:30 p.m. It gutted a guest bedroom and caused extensive smoke damage throughout the modest, single-story home, fire officials said.
Goldberg was treated and released from Palomar Medical Center in Escondido shortly afterward, and is now recuperating at her son's home, neighbors said. She could not be reached for comment.