Passerby recounts saving lives at Henrico fire scene

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) –  For the first time, we're hearing from the good Samaritan who helped save 11 people from their burning apartment. We also have new information on what caused that fire yesterday in Henrico's West End.

Investigators say an overheated light fixture sparked the flames at the Colonial Village Apartments. They broke out around 9:30 a.m., but nobody seemed to be aware that the building was on fire until they got a knock on their door.

Rich Fahd was driving along nearby Springfield Rd. when he saw smoke. So he pulled over, ditched the car, and got to work saving lives.

The flames started in the attic, with smoke billowing high into the air. But during those first few minutes...nobody in the apartments knew anything was burning.

That includes Mia Shaw and Natalie Grady who spoke to us Sunday.

MIA: "She heard the neighbor."

NATALIE: "Banging on the door."

MIA: "Yeah, never saw him before, never saw him before."

Little did anyone know, Rich Fahd, isn't actually a neighbor. He just happened to be driving by, realizing nobody else was outside the burning building. As he ran up and down the stairs, there was only one thing to say.

"There's a fire, you guys gotta get out, get out, get out!" Fahd told us Monday.

Within minutes, everybody was out, minus all their possessions, and that's where the story takes yet another fortunate turn.

"Upstairs, in the attic, we probably have a tremendous amount of some older furniture, computers," Fahd showed us, at his Henrico home.

Rich has an attic full of boxes including clothing, toys, and home furnishings...the kinds of things 11 people might need to get life back to normal.

"This is something that nobody ever prepares for," Fahd said.

Back at the fire scene, Rich is making his family's belongings available to the fire victims.

"I would only hope that if the roles were reversed, somebody would help other people out in the same  scenario," he said.

He's not here to take credit...only to take care, of people who might need it.

"Everybody is safe, and everybody is with us today, so that's something that you can only be thankful for," Fahd said.

Henrico investigators call Sunday's fire "accidental" in nature. The Red Cross is also assisting the 11 people who were left homeless.

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