by Julie Thunder
17 year-old Aidan Cohen is the high school senior (SDA) who recently saved his next-door neighbor from a house fire. There were plenty of TV news interviews, but we wanted to hear the whole story from him. Turns out a series of events that happened that day has left Aidan’s entire family a little shaken up and very grateful. But, first the fire…
Aidan told us that on the night of the fire he and his older brother, Ryan, were hanging out in their family’s kitchen in Cardiff on Stafford Avenue. Their parents, Jon and Shannon, and their sister, Erin, had already gone to bed. Aidan and Ryan noticed the kitchen lights flicker and then they heard a large explosion coming from their front yard. Aidan said the explosion created a “big flash of bright white light, like a welding light”.
They ran out their front door and saw two-story-high flames had already engulfed the front part of their neighbor’s house where screenwriter Michael Allin had lived for most of the boys’ lives.
Ryan ran back inside his home to call 911 and awaken his family while Aidan started searching and yelling for Michael. While his parents and sister made their way outside, Ryan came back to help Aidan search when they heard moaning coming from inside Michael’s back door.
Although the flames hadn’t made it to the back of the house yet, the smoke was thick enough that Aidan couldn’t really see inside. He tried to go through the back door which was jammed but he was able to strong-arm it open. Then he found Michael laying on the floor and was able to drag him out of the house where Ryan started attending to his injuries while Aidan went to get help for Michael.
Aidan said at this time several firefighters had arrived but were dealing with downed power lines across the driveway and couldn’t get to Michael immediately.
Later, Michael told the boys that he had been awakened by a loud noise and then tried to get out the back door but the thick smoke seemed to knock him down to the floor.
When asked about Michael’s injuries which consisted of smoke inhalation and bumps and scrapes, Aidan said, “Michael inhaled the smoke on his own and I gave him the scrapes while dragging him out”.
The day of the fire, December 12th, was already unusual for Aidan and Ryan. Their sister, Erin, who lives in Boston was home for a visit and was supposed to take the train earlier that day to Los Angeles to visit their grandmother, Esther. Sadly, it was her train that hit the pedestrian who jumped out onto the tracks near Hansen’s in Encinitas. The trains were all stopped so her dad, Jon, picked her up and brought her back home.
Also on that day, Ryan was driving himself home from UC Davis where he is a sophomore. He was supposed to stop in Los Angeles to see Erin and their grandmother, but since Erin’s train was canceled their parents told him to come straight to Cardiff. But, driving south on the I-5, as he came into Carlsbad, traffic suddenly stopped. A small plane had crash-landed on the freeway and he was delayed for quite some time. Finally, Ryan made his way back up to the 78 freeway, down El Camino Real and then home to Cardiff, arriving late in the night. Aidan had waited up for him, which is why they were both in the kitchen when the next-door fire started. Aidan recognizes that it was a very unusual series of events that placed him in the kitchen late at night when the explosion happened.
As for the fire victim, Michael Allin, he is being assisted by the Red Cross until he can make arrangements to move in with his son. More on his professional career which includes films like “Flash Gordon” and “Enter the Dragon” can be found here and here.