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Good Samaritan arrives home in time to fight flames engulfing popup camper

By JJ VELASQUEZ
July 17, 2010 at 2:17 a.m.

Firefighters battle a popup camper fire in the 400 block of Stone Gate Drive on Friday night.

Use a fire extinguisher only if:

You have alerted other occupants and someone has called the fire department.

The fire is small and contained to a single object, such as a wastebasket.

You are safe from the toxic smoke produced by the fire

You have a means of escape identified and the fire is not between you and the escape route.

Your instincts tell you that it is safe to use an extinguisher.

SOURCE: U.S. FIRE ADMINISTRATION

Robert Steed began his Friday by meeting the Rev. Al Sharpton while vacationing in Manhattan.

He ended it fighting a Victoria fire that involved his neighbor's popup camper.

"Thank God it didn't happen while they were camping," said Steed, who stopped to help as he was driving back in from Austin-Bergstrom International airport.

Steed, a volunteer firefighter in Eastland 18 years ago, aided in containing the fire on the 400 block of Stone Gate Drive at 10:23 p.m.

As he was driving home, he noticed the flames that had engulfed the camper. He dialed 911 and knocked on the door of the homeowner, who had been in a deep sleep, he recalled Saturday.

Steed was helped by two other neighbors of the man. Not only had the man's camper caught fire, his vehicle, which was in the same driveway, also burned.

The Good Samaritans used hoses to fight the flames. Steed said his main objective was containing the fire to the camper.

Within eight minutes of Steed's call, the Victoria Fire Department arrived and put out the fire.

Steed tipped his hat to the neighbors who helped support his effort to contain the blaze.

"My hat is off to his neighbors on both sides," he said. "They knew they were spraying butane tanks."

Butane, which is highly flammable, is used to fuel campers to power stoves and other appliances.

The cause of the fire has not been determined. Victoria Fire Department is investigating.

Battalion Chief Tracy Fox said the fire spread to a vehicle in the driveway, but the fire was contained there.

"It very likely would have involved the house if the firemen wouldn't have gotten there," said Steed, who works as a financial adviser for Edward Jones.

This isn't the first time Steed has lent a helping hand.

In October, an elderly couple crashed into the Aflac and Edward Jones building at 109 Teakwood Drive where he worked. As another volunteer helped the woman in the driver's side, Steed opened the passenger door and helped the man out.

For anyone responding to an emergency, he offered some advice:

"Preparedness is very important," Steed said, adding that next time, he will be equipped with a fire extinguisher. "Otherwise, you are trying to figure out what you have to do, and you don't have time for that."

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