Neighbors rescue man from burning home - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Neighbors rescue man from burning home

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -

A group of Army veterans joined neighbors to help rescue a retired Marine Captain from his burning home Sunday morning.

Firefighters say the former Marine was taken to a local burn center in extremely critical condition.

"I was just worried about his life.. it was a matter of seconds," said Muhammad Alkusaury, a neighbor.

Friends say Bill Clemons is recovering after neighbors pulled him from the house near 47th Avenue and Cactus around 1 a.m.

"We tried to break in from the back.  It was heavy flames.. there was no way to get in," said Alkusaury.

Paul Anderson lives nearby.  He and his roommates, all military veterans, started breaking out front windows and heard someone inside.

"I couldn't see anything.  I reached in.  I had him grab my hand.. that gave him the strength to stand up and walk to the door," he explained.  "At that point, another gentleman came over with an ax and busted down the door and we got him out.. that's when the crews showed up."

We're told this neighborhood is very close.  They often know each other and often hold block parties.  One neighbor says this man was the first to welcome people to the neighborhood.

"He's a very nice guy, very good musician.  Every time we gathered here for a dinner with neighbors, he'd grab his saxophone and play for us," said Alkusaury.

As the director of the U.S. Marine Corps Band, Clemons performed for five U.S. presidents and other heads of state.

A YouTube video showed him performing with the Arizona Winds.

On Sunday afternoon, Clemons' family and friends stopped by, thanking neighbors.

"Thank you for doing what you did," said Kate Tucker.  "At least we got him alive," replied Alkusaury.

Firefighters credit the neighbors' heroic efforts with saving Clemons' life -- they credit each other.

"Thank God with the help of the other three, I was part of a team.. we managed to get him out and I'm so happy he is alive," said Alkusaury.

"I think anybody that saw somebody in danger would step up and help out anyway they could," said Anderson.

Firefighters rescued Clemons' dog from the home. Clemons was the only person in the home at the time and friends say his wife, who was out of town, is now headed back to Glendale.

Firefighters have not determined the cause of the fire.

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