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Heroic Yuba City teen alerts residents of blaze
A mother, 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son escaped a fire Friday afternoon that burned their two-story Yuba City townhouse.
A River Valley High School freshman was called a hero for alerting residents to the blaze.
"I tried to put it out. I couldn't," the mother, Mariah Espinoza, said. "Then I came outside with the kids."
The fire at the Westbridge Townhouses, 1491 Bridge St., near the Toys 'R' Us on West Onstott Road, was reported at 4:29 p.m., said Yuba City Fire Chief Pete Daley.
Daley said it's believed the 4-year-old got hold of a cigarette lighter in the living room. A blanket, stuffed animal and mattress caught fire.
"The fire burned very hot," the chief said. "Very quickly and very hot."
Daley said a smoke detector in the burned unit alerted the mother, who was upstairs. The burned townhouse is a corner unit in the complex.
"If we had to have one," Daley said of a fire, "that was probably the best location."
Nicholas Forsberg, 14, was walking home from River Valley High to his home at Westbridge when he saw smoke and then the two children.
"Can you help?" asked the 4-year-old, whose mother then emerged, shaken, from the townhouse. Forsberg knocked on the nearby townhouse of David Thurman, 22, who called 911.
Thurman didn't know about the fire until Forsberg alerted him.
"He was the real hero," Thurman said of the River Valley teenager.
Forsberg went to about a half-dozen townhouses to alert residents to the fire.
Arthur Dominguez, 62, was asleep in the townhouse next to the burned unit when Forsberg awakened him.
"Nick is number one," Dominguez said.
Renee Balding, Forsberg's mother, said of her son: "He's a rock star in my eyes."
"He knows," she said, "to do the right thing."
The teen, who attended Andros Karperos Middle School and wants to be a graphic designer for video games , will be honored Tuesday at River Valley for his 3.7 grade point average.
Damage to both floors of the townhouse was estimated at $60,000.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.