Nick Phillips

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Nick Phillips received the August ExtraORdinary People award for his efforts to rescue three people from a house fire in June.

Sometimes, Good Samaritans don’t wear shoes.

Nick Phillips of Brentwood was driving past a fire that destroyed a detached garage and damaged a home in Cecil Township on June 26 when he stopped to run into the house and alert the three people inside about the blaze.

Phillips, 21, and his girlfriend, Madison Kopach, of Canonsburg, had dropped off Kopach’s little sister at a friend’s house about 9:30 p.m. when they noticed flames.

By the time Phillips arrived, the blaze had engulfed a large, two-story detached garage and four vehicles, and was beginning to melt the siding on the back of the home at 1616 Route 980, owned by Karen Herdman.

“I was thinking I wish I had put shoes on before I left the house,” said Phillips. “But I made the decision when we saw the fire that I was going in no matter what.”

A couple who were staying in the home’s Airbnb apartment evacuated the home safely after Phillips pounded on glass doors to make them aware of the fire. Herdman’s neighbors also made sure the couple got out safely.

A resident of the home, who had been sleeping and was unaware of the fire, was awakened by the actions of Phillips and another neighbor who went into the home and upstairs, and escaped the house. Phillips and the neighbor also let out three dogs who were in a second-floor bedroom.

For his efforts, Phillips has been selected for the Observer-Reporter’s ExtraORdinary People award.

Phillips, a plumber and a graduate of Central Catholic High School, said he also was thinking about the location of the gas line.

“I was definitely thinking a lot, and I was thinking where the gas line would be in the house,” he said. “The fire was toward the rear of the house, and I was comfortable the gas was going to be in the front of the house.”

In a Facebook post, the occupant of the home thanked Phillips, his neighbors, and the volunteer firefighters from Muse, Cecil and McDonald fire departments for their efforts that night.

Cecil Township police Chief Shawn Bukovinsky credited Phillips and others who put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

“It’s a great thing. It’s incredible that people are willing to put themselves in danger to rescue someone else,” said Bukovinsky. “I believe in this particular situation it did make a difference in the outcome of nobody being injured.”

At the same time, Bukovinsky cautioned that people not put themselves in unnecessary danger.

Kopach said she was nervous when Phillips told her he was going to go inside the house to make sure everyone was out.

“It was just really brave of him to do that, really courageous,” she said. “I’m glad it ended how it ended, with everyone safe and the house not burned down.”

Phillips said stopping to see if anyone needed help was simply the right thing to do.

“If you can do something, you should,” said Phillips. “We all should help each other out if we’re able to.”

As part of the ExtraORdinary People series, Nick Phillips will be given $500, underwritten by the Observer-Reporter and Range Resources, to make to the charity of his choice. He has chosen the Washington Area Humane Society.

ExtraO-Rdinary People
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