Strangers united by heroic fire rescue
THEY come from two very different walks of life but Lex Petersen and Patrick Drinan will be forever connected by the tragic events of March 24.
The unassuming heroes have spoken for the first time of their courageous efforts to save a young boy from a house fire in Kingaroy that killed three people.
Retiree Lex was driving home from a Rotary Club lunch when he noticed flames tearing through a one-storey home on Kingaroy St. Inside, Zach Fisher, then 4, was pressed against a bedroom window as the fire raged.
His mother Sarah Bond, 33, who arrived home to find her home ablaze, could only watch on in horror, knowing that Zach was trapped along with Connor, 2, Bruce, 11 mths, and their dad, Bruce Fisher Sr, 42.
The fire continued to build, causing the bathroom window to explode as Lex was joined in the chaos by Patrick, an irrigation specialist, who saw the smoke from his car a few blocks away.
Sarah was frozen in fear, leading Lex to grab her key.
"I took it off her so I could try and get into the house but we couldn't," Lex said.
"That's about the time things got real," Patrick added.
They realised their only option was to smash the bedroom window and pull Zach to safety. But the child, frightened by the breaking glass, ran into the next bedroom, closer to the growing furnace.
After convincing Zach to stay still, Patrick broke that room's window. Lex wasn't tall enough to reach Zach, so he held onto Patrick's legs as the younger man reached into the scorching heat and grabbed the boy.
"With the heat and the smoke that came out of the house, the chances of someone being alive were nil," Patrick said. "We just had to try. It was a bloody miracle that he stood up. How he was still alive I don't know."
"But Sarah, she was just a horrible mess. She collapsed on the footpath, so I was trying to console her," Lex said.
Tragically, Zach's two siblings and his father died.
Both men have stayed in contact with Sarah, in a bid to help her recovery. The trio's first meeting was last month.
"There were a lot of tears shed," Lex said. "She just grabbed and hung onto me. She didn't say much at all - she was just so grateful.
"To see Zach as well as he was - running around as a five-year-old should - it was mind-boggling," Patrick said.
"If we hadn't have rolled up and done what we'd done, there would have been no way that boy would be running around that park."
For their bravery, Lex Petersen and Patrick Drinan have been nominated for a 2018 Pride of Australia award.
PRIDE OF AUSTRALIA
* Pride of Australia is a News Corp initiative, in partnership with Australia Post and Seven News, to unearth and honour ordinary Australians who make an extraordinary contribution to our community.
* Nominations are now open and close on October 21.
* Nominate a hero at prideofaustralia.com.au