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‘My heart took over': Firefighter recalls finding elderly woman in burning home

HOUSTON – A Houston firefighter who stormed into a burning home Tuesday in an attempt to save an elderly woman said he was just doing what he was supposed to do.

Houston Fire Department Capt. Art De La Garza said he had just finished a long shift when he noticed smoke rising from the Sagerock Drive home a mile away.

De La Garza said when he found the home, he kicked open the door and found 83-year-old Patrica Arp collapsed at the foot of the stairs.

“You know, I guess my heart took over,” De La Garza said. “You know, I did what I was put on this earth to do.”

Moments later, on-duty firefighters arrived and helped pull Arp out of the house. Crews performed CPR on her, but she died an hour later.

Family members said they are grateful for the 22-year veteran firefighter’s efforts.

“For someone to risk their life like that, and not knowing the situation – it’s a wonderful thing,” said Laura Bartlett, Arp’s granddaughter.

Firefighters said the blaze appears to have started in the kitchen, but the cause is still being investigated.


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