By JOHN T. WARD
Kristopher Parker was dropping off his grandmother at the Evergreen Terrace apartments in Red Bank when he saw the smoke from the tiny house set way back off the street and ran toward it.
Robert Womble had just finished an early supper with his grandmother at the same complex when neighbors began screaming that there was a fire next door. Out the door and over a tall chainlink fence he went.
Both men, who did not know each other, converged on the back porch of the burning house, alerted to the possibility the awful near certainty, in fact that an elderly woman was inside.
“These men never hesitated, they just reacted,” said Red Bank borough Administrator and Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels. “They did what trained people hesitate to do, and they did it without helmets, without protective gear.”
What they did on September 18 was to kick in the back door, which was blocked by piles of junk, and make their way through black smoke toward to the desperate voice of Phyllis Rudrow, crawling part of the way, even as Parker communicated with a 911 dispatcher via a Bluetooth cellphone device in one ear.