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While Raising Flags, School Janitor Spots Flames, Rescues 2
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 4 years ago on
December 20, 2019

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School custodian Tony Martinez was raising the flags in front of Eastin-Arcola Elementary School about 6 a.m. Thursday when he saw flames engulfing a house across the street.


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Martinez sprinted to the home, jumped a fence and burst inside. Through the thick smoke and flames, he spotted a man and woman on the floor, both unconscious and with burns, said George Garnica, spokesman for Madera Unified School District.
Martinez carried the pair outside while another school employee, cafeteria worker Teresa Deleija, called 911 to bring firefighters and medical personnel to the scene to treat the injured man and woman. They reportedly were airlifted to a hospital.

School Recognizes Its Hero

Garnica reported that Madera County Fire Training Capt. Chris Reneau credits Martinez with saving the lives of the couple.
Martinez was recognized later Thursday during an assembly at the school, which is southeast of Madera and west of Highway 99.

Martinez has worked for the district for more than 13 years, and Deleija has been a district employee for 16 years, Garnica said.
Madera Unified Superintendent Todd Lile also praised Martinez for his heroism. “This event is a reminder that heroes do not always come in capes, and great people in our district take action when they see people in need,” Lile said. “This demonstrates the kind of classified employees we have in our district.”
Classified employees are school staff who do not teach in the classroom.

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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