ODESSA, TX (KWES) - A city utilities worker broke down a burning door, smashed his way through glass, ran through a wall of flames and knowingly risked his life Monday afternoon to rescue a disabled woman from a burning home in the 1100 block of West Ada Street.
Junior Barrientes, an Odessa city employee, previously worked as a volunteer firefighter in Andrews and West Odessa, and immediately sprang to action when he noticed smoke.
He was in the neighborhood making a work delivery and rushed to help two men attempting to put out the blaze with a garden hose.
The fire had started in an SUV parked at 1103 W. Ada St. and "quickly" spread to the southeastern portion of the home, officials said.
Barrientes said the vehicle was "fully engulfed" when he arrived and flames were creeping toward a nearby fuel tank that could "blow at any time."
"At that point, [one of the men wielding the garden hose] said, 'My mother's still stuck inside,'" he told NewsWest 9.
Amparo Salinas, 64, was trapped in a room filling with thick smoke and unable to escape through a window in her wheelchair, Barrientes said.
Every entrance to the home was blocked by flames or smoke, but the former volunteer firefighter said he was "willing to take a chance" to get to the woman.
"There was no other way but to break through [the burning door in the front of the home]," said Barrientes. "So that's what I did. I just lowered myself and ran through [the fire]."
Officials said he reached Salinas and helped lead her out of the smoldering structure just in time.
She was treated for smoke inhalation at Medical Center Hospital and later released. Relatives said she was "recovering comfortably" Wednesday night.
Friends described Barrientes as a "humble hero" and said he downplayed the rescue.
He told NewsWest 9 he didn't fully register the pain of his own injuries - he was cut by glass and suffered minor burns - or the impact of what he did until hours after the incident.
"I'm not going to lie, I did tear up afterward," said Barrientes. "[I realized I may not] have come home that day to see my family."
Salinas' daughter, Loli Garcia, said a second man, also named Junior, played an important role in the daring rescue as well.
Relatives identified him as Robert "Junior" Lozoya and said he entered the burning home to help Salinas before Barrientes broke through the door and led them both to safety underneath a blanket.