Spirit of Courage Award- Marty Martinez
On Thursday, May 5, 2022, Chula Vista Fire Department Captain Josh Sanders presented the 2022 Spirit of Courage Award to Marty Martinez
Marty decided to head home early on January 5, 2021, she was tired from spending a day with her three lovely granddaughters. As she drove down the hill into her senior living community, she saw flames shooting 20 feet high from the back of her neighbors’ home. Laying on the horn in the hopes of getting someone’s attention, Marty quickly stopped her car and realized no one else was around to help. She raced toward their driveway, yelling, hoping somebody would hear.
Marty recognized the smoke alarm beeping inside and started pounding on the door yelling for her neighbors to get out. The door opened, and a tunnel of black and brown smoke barreled out. Peering into the dark cloud, she caught a glimpse of someone’s leg, then a man stepped out of the smoke. Marty yelled, “Where is your wife?” He replied, “She’s inside!”
Marty raced once again toward the flames, this time yelling for her neighbor still inside, urging the woman to come toward her voice. Then, Marty heard something unlike anything she had ever experienced before, a rasping, animalistic choking noise. Looking around, Marty saw that there was about 12 inches between the floor and where the smoke started to get thick. Laying on her stomach, Marty inched her way into the room until her toe touched the door jam. She knew that if she went any further in, she may not make it out. In desperation, she flailed her arms out, stretching, reaching, and praying that her neighbor was close by. Her fingers made contact with an ankle, and Marty realized that her neighbor was standing. Eyes closed and trying not to breathe in the heated toxic smoke, she swiftly stood up and grabbed her neighbor and they hurdled toward the front door. They both fell down the stairs landing on the pavement below. Laying on the driveway and looking up, Marty recognized that they were not yet out of danger as the flames were shooting out of the house and endangering the carport they were under. With the help of another resident who had just arrived, Marty managed to get her neighbor away from the flames and out of immediate harm’s way.