By Scott Schaefer

We’re all looking for good news to cheer about so far in 2021, and here’s something GREAT: a jogger and a neighbor are being hailed as heroes for saving a house – and possibly the life – of an elderly Burien man whose home caught fire on Wednesday morning, Jan. 13, 2021.

The fire started in the attic of the home of Roy Swarringin Sr., 80, on South 120th Street near 4th Ave South last Wednesday morning, and was first seen by Kaylin Cochran, who was jogging by and ended up calling 911.

The fire was caused when an overnight windstorm disconnected a ventilation pipe that runs from a wood stove to the attic and out the roof. Swarringin said he woke up, realized that the power was out, started a fire in the stove, then took a nap.

What he didn’t know though was that the flames from the fire ended up shooting directly up into the attic, setting it ablaze.

Cochran said she was running a little late on her usual morning run when she saw the flames.

“While I was about 1.25 miles from finishing my run, I saw a house that had started catching on fire,” she said. “I quickly called 911 and reported it while the neighbor across the street banged on the door to let the elderly man inside know. He grabbed a hose, and started spraying the roof. He helped get two dogs outside in the backyard but kept going back inside the house. Luckily the fire department showed up pretty quickly and was able to get it under control before anything really bad happened. Thank God I did change up my routine today – I was at the right place at the right time!”

Cochran is a Paraeducator at Highline Public Schools, and teaches at Southern Heights Elementary.

The neighbor (who didn’t want to be identified), saw Cochran through his front window looking up at Roy’s roof, then he saw flames on roof. He ran over, pounded on the door and woke Roy, while another neighbor got a ladder and started using a garden hose.

Kaylin Cochran
“I just want to make sure that it is very clear that all I did was call 911 and waited for the fire trucks to get there,” Cochran said. “The real hero was the neighbor who lives across the street. While I was calling 911, he went up and banged on his door and made sure Roy knew that the house was on fire, along with grabbing the hose from the front of the house and spraying the flames the entire time until the fire department had gotten there and were able to take over. I truly don’t feel like a hero. I was just in the right place, at the right time, and did what anyone else would have done.”

“They are all my heros,” said Judy Swarringin-Hornung, daughter of Roy. “We lost my brother in April and my daughter in August. I could not have handled losing my father too. Thanks to them I didn’t. Had she not jogged by when she did there would have been a lot more damage, perhaps worse,” Swarringin-Hornung added.

“I was taking a nap and heard loud banging on the door,” Roy told The B-Town Blog. “The house was very smoky, and I was choking. Good thing he woke me up!”

Swarringin-Hornung posted about the heroism on Facebook:


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