Teen rushes into burning Casselberry home to save dogs

A teenager rescued two dogs from a neighbor's burning home in Casselberry.

The fire started shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on Shady Hollow, according to the Seminole County Fire Department. 

Alexis Falcon, 16, had just gotten home from school. He's a sophomore at Seminole High School.

Home security video showed Falcon running out of his house toward the burning homes. He said he jumped into action because he wanted to stop the fire's spread. 

Falcon said he busted through a fence and a window to rescue the two dogs inside one of the burning homes. Falcon said the intense flames scared him, but he went in anyway.

"The smoke that came off of it started choking me," Falcon said. "The heat from it started scorching my skin a little bit."

Falcon, with the help of his family, brought the dogs to safety inside his own home. He said one of the dogs wanted to go back into the burning house. The dog left Falcon with a few battle scars. 

"Unfortunately, he was scared, and he ended up scratching me up extensively, but I was luckily able to get him before he went back into the fire," Falcon said.

Falcon said he also hosed down the flames as best he could before firefighters arrived. Falcon said it was the most courageous thing he'd ever done. He is in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) and said he's service-minded. 

According to SCFD, 22 units responded to the two-alarm fire. The first firefighters arrived at the scene less than 10 minutes after they were called.

The dog owners, who were not home during the fire, had nothing but gratitude for their heroic neighbor. FOX 35 cameras captured the moment one of the owners gave Falcon a hug. 

James Antonietta said he was having a relaxing day at a theme park when he said he got a phone call alerting him his house was on fire. He said the inside was destroyed, and he estimated two inches of water covered the floor. 

Antonietta said he was mostly worried about his pets when he was racing home.

"That was the biggest thing I was worried about," Antonietta said. "I have literally right now the shorts and shirt on me, and a hat, and that's all I have, but all I was worried about is my dogs and my cat. To find out that the neighbor boy busted a window out to get the dogs, he said he even went under the power line while it was sitting there hissing, that kid is my new favorite person."

Antonietta said the two dogs should be OK, but he'll be taking them to the vet as a precaution. One of them, he said, seemed to be gasping for air. The dogs are 12 and 13 years old and are both rescue animals. Firefighters found Antonietta's cat in hiding a little more than an hour after the fire started.

According to Seminole County firefighters, a downed power line was in between the two homes where the fire happened. Firefighters are investigating the exact cause. 

FOX 35 News received a response from Duke Energy.

"We will wait for a full investigation to determine the cause of the fire," the statement read. "Our first priority is the safety of our customers and employees. We thank customers for their patience and the swift response of first responders."

The elderly neighbors inside the other house that caught fire are OK but were also forced out of their homes.

The American Red Cross is helping both displaced families, according to SCFD.