‘You don’t think, you just go,’ Redlands man says of saving neighbor from fire

When Redlands resident Nicholas Miller realized the smoke he saw on his way home from work was coming from his neighborhood, all he could think about was checking on his three children who were at home across the street from the blaze.

Once he determined they were fine, he ran out the front door to see how he could help.

Another neighbor, Kacey Reineman, also noticed the smoke that evening and stopped to investigate if anyone was in the burning house or if 911 had been called.

“I get up there and the whole front of the house is on fire,” Miller recalled. “I just started screaming ‘Hello, is anybody there? and I hear a ‘help!’ from the back.”

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The Redlands Fire Department honored Miller and Reineman with Lifesaving Awards on Tuesday, March 25, for their actions at that Palo Alto Drive fire on Jan. 20.

Smoke was coming from the windows in the back, and the calls for help were coming from a second-story window on that side.

Miller, Reineman and a third person, who was not identified, jumped into action to find a ladder.

Miller climbed the ladder and brought the woman down on his shoulder.

“From there we ran out the side as everything was on fire,” Miller said before the presentation at the Redlands City Council meeting.

The resident, who was also not identified, was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and minor burns.

Miller had singed hair and minor burns on his ears.

“They explained it like a bad sunburn,” he said. “The whole left side of my face and my arms were red for about two or three days.”

‘You don’t think, you just go,’ Redlands man says of saving neighbor from fire

If not for their actions, city officials said in a written report for the meeting, the homeowner might not have made it out in time.

“Mr. Miller and Ms. Reineman embody the true meaning of heroes and caring neighbors,” the report states.

A manager at a Redlands area Barnes & Noble, Miller said he had never done anything like this before.

“With just the timing and everything, you don’t think, you just go,” he said.

Interim Fire Chief Rich Sessler thanked Miller and Reineman, who was not able to attend but watched the presentation as part of the regular meeting broadcast.

“There’s moments when people decide to act, or help out, and make a difference, and in January of this year, Nick Miller and Kacey Reineman decided to act,” Sessler said. “This was a neighbor in need.”

Mayor Paul Barich also thanked the two.

“Going in risking your life for a neighbor, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Barich said. “What a sacrifice.”

Miller brought his wife, his two daughters, his son, their grandparents, and his brother-in-law and his brother-in-law’s two children to the meeting at City Hall.

After the presentation, the fire department treated Miller and his young family members to a ride, with sirens and lights, in fire engine 261, one of several that arrived to the scene after the homeowner was pulled to safety.

Miller said his first ride in a fire engine was loud. His 11-year-old daughter Riley said it was fun.

The cause of the fire, which had been under investigation initially, has been determined to be a space heater powered by an extension cord.

“There are not many times where we can have that kind of impact,” Sessler said at the meeting. “Police and fire, we have opportunities to do those things, but a resident taking that action for a neighbor, putting themselves in harm’s way for the better good (is extraordinary). On that day, he made a difference.”

Staff writer Hunter Lee contributed to this report.