On a serendipitous alternate route Monday morning, two Lawrence men happened upon a house fire where they helped lend a hand and gave their coats to the resident.
Jack Proctor, 20, and Eli Woodman, 19, were driving to the nearest ATM before picking up Proctor's sister to take her to work. The ATM would have been west, but for some reason, Proctor decided to go east.
"After about one block we saw a bunch of smoke," he said.
Out of curiosity they followed the smoke to the house, 1507 W. 27th St., which was engulfed in flames. Proctor parked his car near a hydrant and both ran to the house. They immediately saw Brad Shuck, an agent for McGrew Real Estate, pulling George Robson, 69, out of Robson's doorway.
"I'm yelling at him, 'Is anyone else in there?' and he (Shuck) says, 'I need help. I can't breathe,'" Proctor said.
The two men helped Shuck pull Robson, who wasn't clothed, out to the street. They put their coats on him as they waited for an ambulance. Woodman was able to retrieve his coat, but Proctor's went with Robson to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Then, there were still the errands to run. They both ran six blocks through backyards to Woodman's house to get his car, because Proctor's was blocked by fire trucks. They dropped off Proctor's sister, who fed them a "hero lunch," at Yokohama restaurant, where she works.
Both men were curious about Robson's condition.
"It was pretty crazy. I'd definitely like to talk to the guy," Woodman said.
Because they disappeared from the scene quickly, no one, including Robson's wife, Ada, knew who had helped.
"We're very appreciative," Ada Robson, an LMH nurse, said. "There was a yellow blanket and a coat in the emergency room. I have no idea what happened to them. I'm very grateful for that."
George Robson was released from LMH after being treated for smoke inhalation. He and his wife are living with family until they can renovate their home, which sustained about $90,000 in damages.