Fire Victim Worries About Displaced Friends - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/03/05

Fire Victim Worries About Displaced Friends

A man who saved six lives in an early morning hotel fire in Gulfport is now worried about his friends.

Only one man was injured in the fire, but dozens of residents who didn't have much to begin with lost what little they had.

It was early Friday morning and most at the Wills Hotel were sleeping. One resident, Humberto Paura, was awaken by the smoke and flames.

Through a Spanish interpreter, he told WLOX News, "When I opened the door of my bedroom, the smoke just engulfed me. I went to the window, grabbed a breath of fresh air and held my breath and opened up the door again."

When he opened his door he heard other residents screaming.

"Many of the second floor residents were elderly, so instead of trying to jump, they laid down as the flames approached. I picked them up so they could come to the corner and I could start dropping them."

Paura lowered six men to safety, but says he doesn't feel like a hero. He says God gave him strength.

"I wasn't scared. I didn't feel anything and I feel that the Lord was with me in that time."

He lost everything, including this month's rent. But Paura says he now worries about his friends who have nothing and think they have nowhere to go.

"My biggest concern is not for myself, because God had already taken care of me, but for the people who don't have family who don't have a church or a home and they are destitute."

Paura's friend Tony Pednarczyk is one of those people. The disabled man also helped save lives that night, but has been sleeping at outdoor campsites since Friday.

"It took me back to square one."

Paura wants to get the word out to all of his friends that he's trying to get them some help.

"They're out there and they don't know where to go and they don't know what to do, so that's what my concern is."

Victims of the fire can sleep at the Salvation Army in Gulfport for the next seven nights at no charge.

Mr. Paura's pastor at Pass Road Baptist Church in Gulfport is also trying to gather funds, clothing and shelter for the fire victims. If you'd like to help you can call 228-863-1697.

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