UW–Madison law student helps resident escape fire

Nov. 2, 2011

by Gillian Losh

A University of Wisconsin–Madison student came to the aid of a stranger Sunday night when a stove fire broke out in an apartment complex.

Second-year law student Rocco DeFilippis saw smoke coming from one of the units on the 2600 block of Pheasant Ridge Trail and hurried to help when he saw the man inside wasn’t responding. Fire officials say the resident fell asleep while cooking something on the stove just before 6 p.m.

When DeFilippis heard other tenants say there were children in the unit, he acted to make sure the tenant and any children were safe.

“What was going through my head was ‘We have to get those kids out,’” DeFilippis says. “After I smashed the door and helped the man out, another tenant and I did a quick sweep of the bedrooms to make sure the unit was clear. I was only concerned with making sure anyone in there got out safe before the fire spread.”

There were actually no children in the residence and firefighters treated the resident, then put the fire out within five minutes.

DeFilippis says his actions are not unusual for the UW–Madison campus, where people in the community are concerned with the well being of others.

“I just wanted to make sure no one got hurt,” DeFilippis says. “Property can be replaced, but life is sacred.”