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Aspiring firefighter saves elderly couple from Mahwah trailer home blaze


EXCLUSIVE: Days short of his 18 th birthday, with plans of becoming a firefighter, Morgan Herndon of Mahwah rushed into a burning trailer home and carried out an 87-year-old woman who, dressed in her pajamas, was looking in vain for her three cats.

“I pulled into my driveway around 12:15 [a.m. Sunday] after hanging at my friend’s house and saw the fire,” said Herndon, who lives with his family across the street in the Bogert’s Ranch development.

“I thought they were having a campfire and walked over there. Then I saw the porch up in flames,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “I called  the police and then I walked around the house and saw the elderly man standing in the doorway. I helped him out and went back in.

“There was fire everywhere, smoke everywhere. I picked up the woman and carried her out.”

Herndon turns 18 this Friday. On Monday, he said, he’s headed to Fire Company No. 4 in Mahwah to discuss become a firefighter.

That he’s made it this far is a minor miracle in itself, said his mother, Mary Herndon.

“At 5 years old, he was diagnosed with Burkett’s Lymphoma,” she told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “After a year of chemo and radiation, he was cured – yes, cured. It one of the rare forms of cancer that is actually curable.

“I’m so thankful. It seems all three of my kids have guardian angels.”

Three years ago, her daughter, Victoria, was in a car wreck on MacArthur Boulevard in town. With her was her brother, Stephen.

Stephen peeled the roof off his side just enough to climb out. Both he and his sister survived their injuries.

It was that incident that convinced their younger brother to become a firefighter.

“I knew after that that I wanted to help people,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “Because they survived, I want to give back.”

A series of linked extension cords apparently ignited the blaze, Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli  told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . The cats died in the fire, which quickly destroyed the trailer. Mahwah firefighters quickly prevented it from spreading to other homes.

The couple was taken to The Valley Hospital in Mahwah, where they were met by their son, the chief said. Both seemed to be OK and will be staying with relatives for now, he said ( SEE: Mahwah fire destroys trailer home, elderly couple escapes ).

Morgan James Herndon, meanwhile, says he doesn’t feel like a hero – it’s actually a better sensation, he said.

“I was just thinking about them and their safety,” he said. “I asked them both if they were all right. Then I told them, ‘Don’t worry.’ Then the police pulled up. It was later on that I felt really happy about what happened.”

“He brought me to tears when he told me the story,” Mary Herndon said. “Proud does not describe the feelings I have.”


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