By Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN
(CNN) — An 85-year-old man and a passerby in a New Jersey neighborhood are being hailed for their quick action after spotting smoke coming from a home and alerting the sleeping family inside of the danger.
Santo Livio, a longtime early-riser, was checking his front yard around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday when he noticed puffs of what looked like smoke coming from a nearby garage, the South Brunswick Township Police Department said in a statement.
At first, he wasn’t sure if it was smoke or fog, so he asked a woman on the street who was walking by.
“I yelled to her, ‘Does that look like a fire to you on that side?’ And she says, ‘Yes,’” Livio told CNN affiliate WCBS.
The pair ran over to the house and began banging on the door and windows to get the attention of the family inside.
The family was inside and didn’t know their house was on fire, police said. Then they heard banging on their front door and bedroom windows.
As the family started evacuating, Livio called the police.
Fifty firefighters from the three township fire departments responded and put the fire out within about 20 minutes, police said. The woman who helped alert the family slipped away during the commotion.
Though it appears the fire started in the garage, the Fire Safety Bureau will investigate where and how the fire started, the police statement said.
“I credit Mr. Livio, along with the unidentified woman, and their quick thinking and heroic actions, with saving the family,” South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond J. Hayducka said in the statement.
Livio told WCBS that he was simply being a good neighbor to the family, a couple living with four children, who stopped by Livio’s house later to thank him.
“I’m a neighbor that helped, and I’m sure somebody would do the same for me,” Livio told WCBS. “At least, I hope they would have.”
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