Barefoot Teen Braves Fire, Saves Neighbors

Marcos (left) and Cody are now buddies. Marcos (left) and Cody are now buddies.

One evening last fall, while Marcos Ugarte did his homework and his father, Eduardo, a teacher, prepared lesson plans, they heard yelling outside. Eduardo, 47, and Marcos, 15, stepped onto the porch of their two-story contemporary home in Troutdale, Oregon, and saw a commotion four doors down, outside the home of one of their neighbors, the Ma family. “I didn’t think anything was wrong,” Eduardo recalls. “I told Marcos we should give them some privacy.” He headed back inside, but Marcos’s eye was caught by a glow from the Ma house.

“Dad, the house is on fire!” Marcos cried. Clad only in shorts, the barefoot teen sprinted toward the Mas’ home with his dad. Grandmother Yim Ma, mother Suzanne Ma, and son Nathan Ma were gathered on the front lawn yelling for help. When the Ugartes got there, they saw through the open front door that father Alex Ma was stumbling down the stairs, coughing, his face black with soot.

“Is anyone else in the house?” Eduardo asked.

“My son!” Alex managed to say, pointing to the second floor.

Eduardo started up the stairs, but thick, black smoke, swirling ash,and intense heat forced him to his knees. He crawled upstairs and down the hall where Alex said he’d find Cody, eight, who had locked himself in a bedroom. “I’d never seen smoke like that,” says Eduardo. “My glasses immediately turned black from the ash.”

As the fire raged across the hall, Eduardo banged on the bedroom door and tried to turn the doorknob. But Cody didn’t respond, and Eduardo made his way back downstairs. At the same time, Marcos saw Yim and Suzanne pulling an aluminum ladder out of the garage. “Cody was standing at the window, screaming for help,” says Marcos.

“I knew I had to do something.” He grabbed the ladder, positioned it near the window, and climbed toward the boy. When Marcos reached the window, he pushed the screen into the room and coaxed Cody out. “It’s OK,” Marcos told him. “I’ve got you.” Holding Cody with one arm, Marcos descended the ladder. Halfway down, he handed the boy to a neighbor.

When firefighters arrived a few minutes later, plumes of black smoke were billowing from the back of the house as flames engulfed the second floor. Emergency personnel took Cody to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and released. No one else was injured. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

“You just don’t see a teenager have that kind of composure,” says Mark Maunder, Gresham Fire Department battalion chief. The Ma family relocated because their house is still uninhabitable.The day after the fire, Alex visited Marcos. “Thank you for saving my son,” Alex said. “You are his hero forever.”

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

9 thoughts on “Barefoot Teen Braves Fire, Saves Neighbors

  1. i am really prod of u good job just wow you are one brave kid

  2. Amazing! I hope there are more people like you nowadays! :) Very inspiring

  3. I wish that this teen was my next door neighbor. That was a very uplifting and inspiring story indeed. Bless him.

  4. wtf why would you read this by your own will? I did because I need a story to my english class…

    1. its because of people like you that there are bad stereotypes out there about teens. This boy in the article was a true hero and maybe you should think about respecting that fact because really? You are not helping people realize how amazing some teens really are and can be. I wish that someday you will realize that and become a better person by learning that important lesson. And R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy