Family 'grateful' to neighbor, whose house fire rescue was caught on doorbell camera: 'We owe her everything'

Kerry Justich
·5 min read
Video of a neighbor saving a family from a house fire goes viral. (Photo courtesy of David Salgado)
Video of a neighbor saving a family from a house fire goes viral. (Photo courtesy of David Salgado)

A video of a family being rescued from their burning home went viral on TikTok as it showed a neighbor running over and banging on the front door to alert those inside. Now, the mother of the family of five, who got out at just the right time, says, “we owe her everything” about their neighbor, Carol, who saved their lives.

Nicole Salgado, who lived in the home in Avondale, Ariz. for six years with husband David Salgado, their four children and a couple of pets, posted the clip of the Ring doorbell camera footage to her TikTok page to show just how they had been woken up on the first day of the new year. “On January 1st 2021 our lives were forever changed,” she wrote in the video. It has since been viewed over 29 million times.

But the clip that has garnered an outpouring of support from people around the world cannot even begin to capture what the Salgado family went through, as Nicole recalls it all to Yahoo Life.

“It was about 7:30 in the morning. We were all asleep because it was New Year’s Eve the night before, we all stayed up and did the countdown with the kids, so we were all still sleeping and we got woken up by banging on the door, the doorbell was going off,” she says of the morning of the fire. “I just hear banging, banging, banging, so me and my husband shoot up out of bed and we look at each other and we’re like ‘What’s going on? Who could that be?’”

Nicole explains that there was little time to even process the possibility of what was happening so that instead she immediately ran to grab her three daughters — ages 12, 11 and 7 — and 4-year-old son, while David went to the front door.

“He opens the door and I hear the neighbor, Carol, say, ‘Get out, get out. Your house is on fire. Get out,’” she explains. “We kind of run out. Nobody had shoes, nobody had socks on. It was just a crazy moment.”

That moment, recorded by the family’s doorbell system, is what so many responded to on TikTok, calling Carol the family’s “guardian angel” and referring to her as a hero as the neighbor offered the Salgado family to take shelter in her home. Nicole, however, says that the woman from next door is now so much more than that.

“Before it was just kind of the friendly neighbor. We’d wave hi, bye. When I was pregnant with my son, they would see us outside and ask how I’m feeling. Just a friendly neighbor interaction. Now, it’ll be completely different,” Nicole says. “We’re just so grateful to her. Now, she’s gonna be family.”

Still, Nicole admits just how difficult it has been to acknowledge that the home and those neighbors aren’t theirs for the time being, as the Salgado’s are living in a family member’s home nearly 30 minutes away in Peoria, Ariz. “It’s sad that we have to just abruptly leave like this,” Nicole says.

The Salgado family lost everything in their home, as well as their only car, as a result of the fire. (Photo courtesy of David Salgado)
The Salgado family lost everything in their home, as well as their only car, as a result of the fire. (Photo courtesy of David Salgado)

The unimaginable reality of losing all of their belongings in the fire was made worse by the already tragic pandemic, as Nicole and David had been sick with the coronavirus just two weeks before the fire. “We were already not working for two weeks because we had to quarantine,” Nicole explains. “We were finally tested negative, finally ready to start the new year, we were gonna go back to work, and then this happens. I feel like at this point, there’s nowhere we can go but up.”

While she and her husband take more time off of work to ensure that their family is situated and cared for, the children have transitioned from in-person learning at their school to virtual learning while out of town. Nicole says that her kids are “resilient” but are having trouble understanding the longterm changes and leaving so many things behind. Her daughters have even shared concerns about wearing socks to bed, in case they experience the same tragedy again.

David and Nicole Salgado with their four children. (Photo courtesy of David Salgado)
David and Nicole Salgado with their four children. (Photo courtesy of David Salgado)

“It’s just kind of telling them, we’ll be okay. We have to stick together,” Nicole explains of her conversations with the children. “And look at all the positivity that’s come out of it, look at all of the people that have rallied around us and supported us.”

A GoFundMe page started by the family’s friend, Graciela Bern, has already raised over $32,500 as of publish from people everywhere who have heard the Salgado’s story and want to help.

“All these hardworking people that work so hard for their money, that have their own bills and their own stuff to do are donating money to us. They’ve never met us, they don’t know us, but they care enough about our family to want to help,” she says. “It just kind of blows me away.”

Although the money is incredibly helpful for the family looking to completely rebuild their lives, Salgado shares that it’s truly the displays of compassion that have gotten them through the days since the fire.

“The biggest thing I take from this story is just be kind to your neighbor,” she says. “In all of these dark times, it’s so refreshing to see that there are people out there that care about other people. And even though we’re going through some of the hardest times of our lives, we’re still being positive and looking forward.”

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