Oxygen tanks shoot off like missiles in Cambridge fire

AMAZING RESCUE: Oxygen tanks shoot off like missiles in Cambridge fire

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Tom Simon Tom Simon
CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (KMSP) -

A Cambridge man is lucky to be alive after he was rescued from a fire on Saturday, and police credit the man who sprung into action to pull the man from the burning home.

Tom Simon is what you call a reluctant hero and a busy man. After saving his neighbor Saturday morning, he zoomed off to celebrate a friend’s birthday party in Minneapolis. Simon told Fox 9 over the phone he just did not have the time to be interviewed, so everyone else in Cambridge is speaking on his behalf.

When the fire erupted inside a trailer home on the 2200-block of Red Pine Drive around 9 a.m., Capt. Corey Bustrom says it took only minutes for everything to go up in flames, and the home is a total loss. Complicating the firefighting efforts were 10-pound oxygen tanks exploding inside the home, and shooting out like missiles.

Phil Virkus, 86, was inside alone, connected to an oxygen machine, and struggling to get out. That is, until Simon took action.

Frank Simon lives right across the street and says his son happened to be outside for a cigarette, and his quick thinking saved Virkus’ life.

“Tom just picked him up and carried him like a baby,” Simon said. “My son is just that type of a person.”

Simon also says his son is camera shy and being called a hero is the last thing on his mind, but many others in this community, including Virkus from his hospital bed think he is.

“He's a hero, he carried me out of there,” Virkus said.

All the Cambridge firefighters played an important role putting out the fire this morning and no one was seriously hurt, but Tom Simon is the one being credited for saving a life.

Virkus is being treated for smoke inhalation but otherwise, doing fine. The cause of this fire is under investigation.

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