EL DORADO HILLS — A man suffered life-threatening injuries as his home morphed into a fireball in El Dorado Hills and Monday night sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were still trying to determine what happened.
A sinister swirl of flame swiped at the Sunday morning sky over one El Dorado Hills neighborhood, devastating a family, frightening neighbors and prompting one man to act.
George Napoleon was burned over 80% of his body. Many say he would not be able to fight for his life at all if his neighbor had not acted so quickly.
“He was running and screaming for help. ‘Please take me to the hospital,’” said neighbor Farooq Atebar. “Oh my God, he was burned all over, his body was burned all over. He had only on underwear and his underwear was burned on the side.”
Atebar was confronted by those screams after his wife heard a huge boom around 4:15 a.m. and he ran out of his house trying to figure out what happened.
He never imagined he would see a huge fireball consuming his neighbors’ home right across Arches Avenue. He never imagined he would see a man he had only nodded at once before begging for help to save his life.
“I first thought, you know, better if I call the ambulance,” Atebar explained. “And I asked him, ‘Should we call the ambulance?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m dying. Don’t wait.'”
As the fire raged, Atebar did his best to race a severely injured George Napoleon to Mercy Hospital of Folsom. Napoleon’s wife, Judith, and 6-month-old daughter were also in the car. They were terrified but unhurt.
Judith Napoleon is a nurse and made a desperate call to the first hospital to treat him, telling them to get ready for what they would soon have to deal with.
Crews from Pacific Gas and Electric, along with sheriff’s deputies and city fire personnel, are trying to determine what destroyed the home from the inside out.
Atebar explained Napoleon told him he was nearing his bathroom when “the explosion happened and the fire hit me.”
Having left his glasses behind in the chaos, Atebar could only drive so fast and couldn’t believe that he asked Napoleon to put his seatbelt on.
“First when he tried, he was screaming,” Atebar said.
While his wife tried to stop him from getting involved because no one knew if the explosion was an attack or if suspects were on the loose, Atebar said taking action was his responsibility as a Muslim.
“In the Quran, it says if you save one human life, you save the whole humanity,” Atebar told FOX40.
While many are calling Atebar a hero, he shrugged off the title.
“A human being is calling for help and I think I expect any other person to do the same thing to me or to my family. I just want to save them,” he said.
FOX40 was in El Dorado Hills Monday when Judith Napoleon returned to her damaged home to retrieve some belongings. She and others close to the family did not want to speak on camera.