A 19-year-old man sprang into action Tuesday when he spotted flames tearing through the garage of a stranger’s home in Upland.
While there’s very little left of the homeowners’ garage, Caleb Delasantos is being hailed as a hero for helping the residents get out of harm’s way on the night of July 4.
“I lost all of my childhood things,” Marianne Hiebsch said of the fire at her Upland house. “My husband lost all of his childhood things. We can only assume because it was Fourth of July that it was a firework because we were in bed.”
It was about 11 p.m. when suddenly, Hiebsch’s dog, Ruby, started barking.
“I just got out of bed and the house was dark and I just saw this orange glow,” she explained. Hiebsch said it was utter chaos trying to salvage what they could.
In the midst of that confusion, Delasantos was driving back home after watching fireworks with his girlfriend when he spotted the plumes of smoke coming from the garage.
“The garage and the whole tree and everything was engulfed in flames,” Delasantos said. “There was just flames shooting out… I just ran to the door trying to get to the main house to get everyone out.”
The 19-year-old’s cellphone was also recording the gut-wrenching moments as he ran into the couple’s home.
“Who else is in the house?” he can be heard yelling?
Hiebsch’s husband, Kenny, was inside the home trying to figure out what do next while dropped their dog off at a neighbor’s home.
“He was in a panicked state,” Delasantos remembered.” I was just, ‘Get the keys, get the keys, like move the car.’ In the moment, I felt adrenaline, but I was calm at the same time.”
Hiebsch agrees, saying the 19-year-old was calm and assertive in the moment.
“I didn’t know him, but I was going to follow him,” she said.
At one point, Delasantos grabbed the hose, watering what he could before firefighters arrived to the house.
“There was so much chaos and then he was gone,” Hiebsch said of Delasantos.
The couple was filled with gratitude for a complete stranger who helped them on one of their darkest days. It wasn’t until the following day that the 19-year-old’s mom brought him back to the Hiebsch’s home where they got to learn who their hero was.
“The way he assessed the situation, he was like a hero,” Kenny said. “It was very heroic what he did, to come and help us people he doesn’t know.”
According to his mother, Danielle Willard, Delasantos lost his father in February and has been having a hard time, but after being able to help the Hiebsch’s, he seems more like himself.
“To me, Caleb is always a hero, but to see and hear it from strangers is amazing, and they’ve given him back his spark,” she said.
Willard also started a GoFundMe campaign for the Hiebsch’s to help with the financial burden of repairing their home and replacing essential items lost during the fire.
Officials with the fire department say the cause of the blaze is under investigation.