TAVARES, Fla. — Brush fire season started early this year, especially for three young boys in Sorrento. On Feb. 23, as they were playing outside, the boys saw smoke and fire. A windy day and dry grass drove the fire close to their homes.
The boys, Dean Schaefer, Alexander Schaefer and William McLaughlin, started yelling, “Fire, fire!” which alerted their parents and neighbors in the community to the fire. The fast-moving conflagration was endangering homes and creating a lot of smoke. Neighbors rushed to control the blaze with garden hoses, while the boys’ parents called 9-1-1 for fire-suppression units.
When Lake County Fire Rescue (LCFR) Station 21 received the call, the firefighters could see the smoke from the station. They arrived to find a fast-moving grass fire with one house endangered by the flames. Additional firefighters were requested for extinguishment and to provide protection for homes threatened by the fire.
While the Lake County Sheriff’s office controlled traffic on the busy roadway, firefighters took to fighting the blaze head-on. A quick and aggressive attack had the fire under control and local residents breathing a sigh of relief.
William is a Cub Scout with Troop 19 in Sorrento, and the other two boys were with him when his Cub Scout Troop visited Lake County Fire Rescue Station 39 in Sorrento. There, the boys learned about calling 9-1-1 and the importance of fire safety and awareness.
On April 13, all three boys were recognized for their quick thinking and life-safety measures, which helped save homes in their east Lake County neighborhood.
This past May, another group of youths, Tyler Knoblett, Spencer Becorest, and Gregory Keen, all students at East Ridge High School in Clermont, were recognized for their lifesaving efforts. On April 22, units from Lake County Fire Rescue and Lake EMS responded to a near-drowning in the area of Magnolia Point in east Clermont. An elderly gentleman, enjoying a morning of fishing, was knocked unconscious when the dock from which he was fishing collapsed and he was plunged into the lake. The boys saw the accident and made the decision to step in and help. Their actions became the difference in life and death for the man.
The gentleman’s wife was walking down to the lake to get her husband as storms were moving into the area. As she approached the backyard she witnessed the dock collapse and her husband fall backward. He struck his head in the fall and then fell backward into the water along with some debris from the dock. The man's wife called for help and the three teens assisted. Tyler Knoblett responded by calling 9-1-1 for help while Spencer Becorest and Gregory Keen entered the water and pulled out the unconscious victim to the beach, where he regained consciousness. Witnesses stated the gentleman was under water for approximately 1 minute. The victim was treated by LCFR and Lake Emergency Medical Services’ crews and transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
The responding emergency crews believe that if these youths had not stepped in when they did, the outcome for this man would have been grave.