U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Cacopardo, 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, poses for a photo with residents he saved in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 25, 2012. Sergeant Cacopardo pulled the residents from the house after the garage caught fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths/Released)
A garage stands scorched days after a fire Staff Sgt. Christopher Cacopardo, 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, saved residents from in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 25, 2012. The fire broke out due to a broken surge protector inside the garage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Christine Griffiths
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/26/2012 - TUCSON, Ariz. -- A Staff Sgt. from the 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., rescued nearby residents after a fire broke out in a house close to his own Oct. 16.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Cacopardo, 923rd AMXS aircraft electrical and environment systems craftsman, was driving home from his night shift to get some rest before a scheduled appointment. He came across a woman outside trying to fight flames that had broke out in her garage with a fire extinguisher.
"I asked her if she needed help with anything," said Cacopardo. "She said she had nine patients in the house. I had asked her what kind of patients she was talking about, she told me 'paraplegics and mentally ill'. I immediately went inside and pulled them out. And just as we were getting the last person out is when the fire department showed up."
After extinguishing the fire, Cacopardo was taken home and questioned by the police.
"I was a little nervous," Cacopardo said. "I thought I was going to be in trouble, the way they were asking questions. Asking who I was and exactly what happened."
After the fire incident, he still continues to keep in contact with the group.
"I check on them at least once a week," Cacopardo said. "I stopped by the day after as I was heading out to go to a bowling tournament just to see how they were doing."
The incident made the sergeant a well-known name in the 923rd AMXS.
"Everyone keeps telling me that I'm a hero," Cacopardo said. "I'm like an honorary fire fighter in my squadron. The first day I came back, I got called in and there was a crew chief that yelled 'Hey, can you fireman carry me back outside the gate?!' Personally, I don't feel like a hero. I was just in the right place at the right time. "