Marian Boben took her normal shortcut to work Wednesday from her Cinnaminson home, cutting down Flynn Avenue in Moorestown on her way to the office.
But yesterday’s drive took a lifesaving turn. As she drove down Flynn Avenue, Boben encountered thick plumes of black smoke and flames dancing from the roof of a home on the 200 block, cutting through the morning’s gray skies.
“There was no one outside and no fire trucks or sirens,” said Boben. “Something wasn’t right. I pulled over, called 911 and started trying to alert the people inside.”
As she ran to the front door, several other neighbors and drivers saw and rushed to help, too. Boben assumed anyone inside might be elderly and couldn’t hear what was happening. Instead, as the Good Samaritans ran around the house banging on doors and testing windows, they encountered two young adults roused from the commotion. Their parents, the homeowners, weren’t home at the time.
“The girl was in the foyer and she didn’t know what to do. I told her to get her shoes on and let’s go,” Boben said. “The young man, her brother, came down then and he looked so stunned.”
For good reason, said Chief Anthony Green of the Moorestown Fire Department. The man was asleep in his second-floor bedroom. The people who banged on the doors, alerting the siblings, “saved this guy’s life ... So hats off to the neighbor.”
Soon after the 911 call, emergency crews and onlookers started flooding the scene. Boben pulled the young woman aside and stayed with her.
“I got my rescue blanket from the car,” said Boben, who has worked in nursing and health care for more than 35 years. “We sat together until the police needed to ask her questions.”
Fire officials said the blaze, reported at 7:55 a.m. Jan. 16, likely started on the first floor of the Cape Cod home and spread through the walls into the second floor and attic. The upper floor and attic were severely damaged by the fire, while the first floor sustained smoke and water damage. The damage left the house temporarily unlivable.
Six fire companies—Moorestown, Lenola, Maple Shade, Mount Laurel, Riverton and Delran—responded to the scene. The fire marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze.
“As we sat there, I couldn’t stop thinking that this was someone’s home. To see your house like this and not be able to do anything is awful,” Boben said.
As for her own actions and those who joined in the rescue party, Boben brushes it aside.
“Anyone would have done it,” she said. “It’s not something you think about. People need help and you just do it.”