MANHATTAN, Kan. - "There was nothing heroic about what I did," said Staff Sgt. Luke S. Burroughs, infantry squad leader for Company A, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. "I did what had to be done."

On the morning of Jan. 16, Burroughs saved his neighbor, a fellow 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldier assigned to 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, from an apartment fire.

About 3 a.m., Burroughs awoke to the smell of smoke. He quickly reacted by asking his guest to go get in his car while he searched for the source of the smell. On the way to the car, his guest told Burroughs that there was smoke coming from underneath his neighbor's door.

"I ran out of my apartment and knocked on his door then tried to kick it in," said Burroughs. "I got no response. The neighbors from the next apartment down came out on their balcony and asked what was going on. I told them to call 911 because there was a fire. Afterward, I ran down the stairs and to the back of the building to the fire ladder and climbed up. When I opened his sliding glass door, there was gray opaque smoke billowing out of his apartment."

Burroughs shouted in to see if his neighbor was in the apartment. He answered but was disoriented and didn't realize that his apartment was on fire. Burroughs then crawled inside the apartment and told him to get low and come to the sound of his voice. The two met about halfway inside of the living room.

"As we were coming out, a police officer was coming around the building and told us to get off of the third floor," he said. "I guided him over to the fire escape so we could climb down. Once I got on the ground floor, I started knocking on doors to make sure no one else was inside the building. When I was about to knock on the fourth door, officers told me I had to get away from the building before the fire got worse."

While sitting safely in his car, Burroughs watched as the Manhattan Fire Department worked to clear the building and extinguish the fire.

"The Manhattan Fire Department did an amazing job to get everything under control," Burroughs said. "But he lost everything."

Manhattan Fire Department officials determined the fire was an accident and said it caused about $500,000 in damage.

Burroughs, whose apartment also suffered significant damage from the fire, remains humble and doesn't consider himself a hero. He's just grateful he was there to do what needed to be done and hopes that his actions mimic those of anyone who decides to do the right thing in an unfortunate situation.

"When I realized that he was in there, then there was no decision to be made except that I was going to go in and get him," he said. "I did nothing special or heroic. I just did what I hope anybody else would do."

Page last updated Fri January 30th, 2009 at 17:53