MARLBORO (CBS) – A 68-year-old Marlboro man is fighting for his life after suffering severe burns to nearly half of his body.
Gene Rano, a Vietnam vet, has mobility issues and was burning wooden planks and other debris out of a metal barrel when he accidentally fell into the fire.
A neighbor on Lakeshore Drive said he had to rescue Rano from the blaze, after hearing his cries for help.
“I pulled him out of the fire and it was kind of burning my hand because his jacket was on fire. His leg was all nude already – peeling off,” said Fernando Teodoro.
Rano had to be airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital with severe burns to 40-percent of his body. WBZ-TV featured Rano in a report two years ago when thieves robbed his home.
“He looked at me, ‘Help! I fell. I’m dying!’ I’m like, Jesus, I wasn’t calm. I was actually very nervous,” said Teodoro.
The blaze spread quickly from the yard to a neighbor’s fence – with smoke billowing out of the barrel.
“I just saw really thick, thick, thick white smoke. It was coming up and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh,’” said Chrissy Frye, who lives across the street.
All that’s left behind is the victim’s jacket beside a bed of charred wood. Teodoro told WBZ that he’s relieved he got to his neighbor before it was too late.
“I really saved that guy. If I took 2-3 minutes to get there, he would’ve been gone.”
Marlboro’s fire chief says this was an illegal burn, which is why he’s reminding residents to do things the right way – obtain a permit and to burn cautiously.