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SHINING MOMENTS: DOWN TO SAFETY

SHARE SHINING MOMENTS: DOWN TO SAFETY

After helping save four people from the roof of a burning house, two members of the Redwood City 1st Ward, Menlo Park California Stake, said, "We just did what anyone else would do."

Sini Makasini Jr., a teachers quorum adviser, and Tofia Kavapalu, a Sunday School teacher, responded quickly when they discovered their neighbors in a life-threatening situation. They were shortly joined by two other men in the relief efforts.The house caught fire during the night, engulfing the bottom level and driving a man, his wife and two children - a 15-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy - to escape onto the roof where they were trapped.

Their next-door neighbor, Brother Kavapalu, works two jobs and normally would not have been home at the time. However, he was in bed with the flu when he heard faint cries for help and ran outside. Smoke was billowing out of the house next door and it took him a moment to identify where the call for help was coming from. Brother Makasini, who lives across the street, and the other men soon joined Brother Kavapalu in his efforts.

They noticed a van parked next to the house and determined it could be used to facilitate the rescue. From the roof, where the family was, to the top of the van was a 15-foot drop. One of the men climbed on top of the van and then instructed the parents to drop the young boy down to him. He caught the boy and then passed him down to the other rescuers on the ground. Then the four men joined in coaxing the other frightened family members into jumping down onto the van. Finally, they leaped down one at a time. From there they were helped to the ground and away from the house to safety. Thanks to the quick and effective efforts of the rescuers, none of the family members suffered serious injury.

The intense heat and hazard faced by the rescuers and victims was made evident by the fact that Brother Kavapalu's luxury car, parked in his driveway, had some of the paint blistered. He said he never thought about moving his car out of danger because his concern was for the stranded family.

The rescue was completed before firemen arrived - only three minutes after they got the call. Although Brother Kavapalu and Brother Makasini insisted anyone would do what they did under the circumstances, the fire marshall called the men's willingness and ability to get the endangered family off the roof to safety a heroic effort.