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Runners rescue family from house fire

St. Augustine City Commissioner was one of rescuers

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – After a home in St. Augustine caught fire early Tuesday morning, four people said they are lucky to be alive thanks to a group of runners who stopped by the house to help.

St. Augustine city commissioner Todd Neville and a group of runners were headed down Riberia Street when they said they smelt smoke and eventually saw the front porch of a home on fire.

"We looked over and someone said, "Oh my gosh the house is on fire," Neville said. "One guy said, "Who has a phone, call 911." I ran up the stairs here, luckily the flames weren't real high here and I went and banged on the door to get the people out."

Neville, a St. Augustine city commissioner and avid runner, said he and the five other guys in the group didn't even think twice about their decision. And it's a good thing. 

"They saved our lives and if they hadn't been yelling and pounding on the door we wouldn't have made it out alive and I'm just really grateful they were there," Sophia and Sarahi Monjaras, residents of the home, said.

Neville said the flames were about five feet high and fire officials told him that fires like this can spread very quickly, especially if there's crawl space underneath the house.

"He says if we were four to five minutes later, the house could have been completely engulfed, so we just happen to be in the right place at the right time," Neville said.

Officials said the fire is still under investigation because they said it is very suspicious and suspect it to be arson.

The St. Augustine Police Department is asking anyone with information about the fire to call police or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS.