YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Ypsilanti Township man was honored at a meeting Tuesday night for saving his neighbor from a burning home.
D. Bates was doing yardwork on Sept. 30 when he heard a neighbor with a fire extinguisher screaming about a fire.
“I see flames and smoke behind her, down the street,” said Bates. “Why does she have the fire extinguisher? It’s a big fire.”
Bates ran over to help after seeing the flames.
“The front door was open,” said DJ Alber. “I heard the guy yelling. An angel from mercy came in and rescued me from the fire.”
Alber said he thought he had smelled something burning moments earlier, so he started looking around the home to see where it was coming from.
When he checked a bedroom in the home and discovered the mattress was on fire. It was a fire that he says appears to be caused by a ceiling fan that was plugged into an extension cord.
Alber dragged the mattress out, thinking he could stop the fire from spreading. He suffered burns in the process but went back inside and was overcome with smoke and fire.
“I couldn’t get out on my own,” Alber said. “I’ve had strokes, health issues.”
Bates said the smoke was so thick when he went into the house that he couldn’t see anything. He also couldn’t breathe. He ran out for air, returned, and quickly found Alber, which he dragged to safety.
“How do you thank someone for saving your life,” Alber said. “I’ll never be able to repay him for his bravery and heroism.”
The two men, once strangers have become close and check in with each other several times a week. When Local 4 asked Bates about the special recognition, he said, “I did something I felt I would want anyone to do for anyone anywhere because that’s the way the world should be.”
Alber spent several days in the burn unit at the University of Michigan. He and his wife lost everything they owned in the fire, but that doesn’t matter much to him.
“I’m alive, and that’s what’s important,” Alber said. “We lost our possessions, and I’ve come to realize they really don’t mean anything either; it’s all about what you do with your life and in your life.”