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Dad Saves Family of 8 From Trailer Home Blaze

April 24, 1985

INDIO, Calif. (AP) _ A 36-year-old man broke windows, tore a door off its hinges and braved flames to rescue his wife, six children and a niece from their blazing mobile home, firefighters said today.

″It was just a miracle how they got out,″ said fire Capt. Tom McAbee. ″I was ready to get on the radio to the coroner after I heard there were nine occupants.″

Only Pedro Ayon and his 8-year-old daughter, Veronica, the last out of the house, were injured.

The family was asleep about 11:40 p.m Monday when the Ayons’ 1-year-old daughter started crying.

When he discovered smoke, Ayon led his wife, Elvira, and five of the children to safety through a window as flames and smoke began filling the trailer.

Veronica and her cousin, Modesta Garcia, 14, were screaming from the rear of the house. Ayon broke a window, allowing Modesta to leap outside, but Veronica was trapped behind a closed door across that room.

Ayon jumped inside and ripped the metal door open.

″I just reacted. I don’t know how I did it,″ he said. ″At that instant, all I wanted to do was save her. I thank God everything turned out OK.″

″It had to happen very fast,″ McAbee said. ″He probably had to accomplish the whole thing, breaking the front and back windows and opening the door, in three to four minutes.″

Veronica was in good condition today at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital after suffering smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on both hands and on her upper left arm, said a nursing supervisor who declined to be identified.

Ayon, who works at a citrus packing house loading dock, was released from the hospital Tuesday after treatment for cuts on his left hand and feet and second-degree burns on his upper back.

The fire, caused by an overloaded electrical outlet, gutted the mobile home, causing $20,000 damage.

″The fire spread very rapidly through the mobile home,″ McAbee said. ″It was an older mobile home and not in the best of condition. It had more occupants than it really is designed for.″

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