A 25-year-old man died early Saturday after rushing into a burning mobile home in Highland to help rescue two little girls before being overcome by the flames, officials and family members said.
Albert Madrid died in the 12:15 a.m. fire at a mobile home in the 7200 block of Sterling Avenue, his family said.
When firefighters arrived on scene, they found the mobile home engulfed in flames, Cal Fire said in a written statement issued Sunday. Four residents of the home had already been evacuated and were suffering from “mild to moderate” injuries.
“A bystander who was providing rescue efforts prior to the first arriving fire engine perished in the fire,” the statement said.
Firefighters discovered the victim’s body in the debris after extinguishing the fire, according to the San Bernardino County coroner’s department, which had yet to formally identify the victim Sunday. The man was pronounced dead at 12:49 a.m.
Authorities did not provide information on the ages and genders of the other injured victims, but video showed paramedics transporting at least two small children and one man onto gurneys.
A fund has been established online to aid Madrid’s family on a GoFundMe page.
“He was only 25 years old but he was the bravest man I have ever known,” Madrid’s father, Robert Madrid, wrote in a eulogy on a memorial website. “He is my hero, my son, a brother, and a grandchild.”
Albert Madrid died saving others, he said.
“He noticed a trailer was on fire as he and his girlfriend (were) pulling into the trailer park,” according to the father. “With out even thinking about it he jumped off his car and ran into the burning trailer to help two little girls who (were) still inside. He helped the little girls get out but he wasn’t able to escape the burning trailer himself.”
“He will be loved and missed by his friends and family,” Robert Madrid wrote. “I am so proud of my son, my hero.”
Albert Madrid’s mother, Irene Sainteclaire, said she was also proud of her son’s actions.
“He saved the little girls, the 4-year-old, the 7-year-old, the teenager and the grandpa,” she said. “He got them out. They were all asleep.”
“He was a hero,” Sainteclaire said. “That family came up to me and hugged me and told me, ‘We want to thank you, because your son saved the little kids and my dad.'”
Sister Melissa Enriquez said she also considered Albert Madrid a hero.
“My brother chose to go in and help, and I want him to be remembered for that,” she said. “He is a good man.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by both Cal Fire and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department arson detail, Cal Fire officials said.