Author and screenwriter Michael Allin, known for writing the classic Bruce Lee film "Enter the Dragon," was rescued from his burning Cardiff home late Thursday night by two teenage neighbors.
“It got close there for a second,” said 17-year-old Aidan Cohen, who lives next door to Allin.
At around 11 p.m. Thursday, Aidan and his 19-year-old brother Ryan Cohen were sitting in their home eating late-night snacks of cereal and ice cream.
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But their meal was interrupted when the power suddenly went off in their home. The two heard an explosion and rushed outside to see their neighbor's house on fire.
They instinctively began shouting: “Michael! Michael!”
“We’ve known him forever. He’s lived there all our lives ... Our first instinct was to scream his name," Cohen said.
The boys ran to the back of the home and heard a disoriented Allin from inside.
"I told [Aidan], ‘Please don’t, please don’t.' Aidan ran, pushed the door open and Aidan ran into his house and dragged him out and literally saved his life," Ryan said.
While his house looked hollowed and badly charred Friday morning, Allin suffered only scratches and bruises.
The screenwriter told NBC 7 the two teens were his “heroes.”
Simply grateful to have been saved, Allin told NBC 7 he fears the fire burned his movie poster of “Enter the Dragon,” the classic '70s Bruce Lee film he wrote.
Neither Allin nor firefighters knew what caused the fire that engulfed his house and two of his tenants’ cars, though the author is hopeful insurance will help.
Aidan Cohen said he was having trouble processing what happened but his brother knew exactly how he felt: proud.
“I’m the big brother, and I hate to say this with all my heart, but I am unbelievably proud. He's a hero. He saved a man's life and he’s unbelievable. I’m so proud of this kid.”
The boys said they have lived next door to Allin their entire lives.
“[Allin] put up with a lot of stuff being my neighbor for a while, so it was kind of nice to give back ... we weren’t the most quiet kids growing up!” said Aidan.
Allin joked saving his life absolutely makes up for the noise.
The fire started in a car near the home on Stafford Avenue north of Birmingham Drive at about 11 p.m. Flames quickly began to overtake the duplex and knocked down live powerlines, creating a challenging firefight.
It took two dozen firefighters more than 45 minutes to put out the blaze. The downed electric lines prevented firefighters from entering the building so crews tackled the fire from outside the home.
Neighbors were briefly told to evacuate as the fire spread to plants outside the home but it was quickly stopped by firefighters.
The front portion of the home was gutted and charred. There was no immediate estimate on how much damage was caused, but Solana Beach Deputy Fire Chief Robert Ford said it was likely the entire house was damaged by smoke and water.