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I couldnt mess up

-  Marcos Ugarte, 14, rescued his 8-year-old neighbor from the second story of a burning house Monday


Since Monday night, Marcos Ugarte has received countless friend requests on Facebook, appeared on “Good Morning America” and confirmed a Monday appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“My phone was dead by 1 p.m. Tuesday,” says Marcos, a 14-year-old Gresham High School student.

The Troutdale teen is credited with rescuing his 8-year-old neighbor from the second story of a burning house in the 2500 block of Southwest Hewitt Avenue shortly after 9:09 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24.by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Eduardo and Marcos Ugarte rushed to help their neighbors during a house fire Sept. 24. As Eduardo ran into the house looking for 8-year-old Cody Ma, Marcos prepared to climb a ladder to the second story window, where he rescued the boy.

“I knew that if I messed up, it’d be on me,” Marcos says. “I couldn’t mess up.”

Minutes after the rescue, a firefighter approached Marcos and told him not to go anywhere because the fire chief would want to talk with him.

“He asked me, ‘Do you think I’m in trouble?’” says Eduardo Ugarte, Marcos’ father. “The proudness started then.”

Monday night

Marcos was working on Spanish homework with his mother, Julie, Monday night when Julie heard screaming.

When Marcos and Eduardo Ugarte walked outside to investigate, Marcos noticed a glow four houses down that he assumed was the sun setting. Upon closer investigation, he saw flames.

“Oh my gosh, Dad! There’s a fire,” Marcos said.

Eduardo told Marcos to call 9-1-1. Shaking, Marcos picked up his phone and dialed but realized Suzanne Ma, the neighbor mother, had already called.

Outside the Ma family’s front door, Suzanne; Yim, the grandmother; and Nathan Ma, one of the sons, 3, doused the fire with a garden hose as You “Alex” Ma emerged from the house with cloth over his mouth.

“My son, my son!” Alex Ma said, gesturing to the second floor.

“Dad, let me go,” Marcos told his father. “I think I can get up there faster.”

But Eduardo Ugarte thought no dad would let his son run into a burning house. Eduardo made his way up the stairs, crawled onto the second floor and pounded on the child’s door.

Smoke had engulfed the second floor, and Eduardo described the heat as the hottest thing he’s ever endured.

Eduardo knocked and grabbed the locked door handle but couldn’t get into the room.

Finally he came out of the house, just as Marcos grabbed an extension ladder from Yim, the grandmother, and placed it against the second-floor window.

Climbing the ladder

Adrenaline gripped Marcos, who’s ordinarily afraid of heights, and he ascended the ladder. About a fourth of the way up, Marcos looked down to see his father bracing the ladder.

As he reached the window, he called down to the grandmother and asked if he was allowed to punch through the screen.

She nodded.

Marcos ripped it out and called to Cody, the boy inside. He instructed him to crawl out feet first, and wrapped his arms around him.

The two stepped down the ladder, and Marcos passed Cody off to a neighbor about halfway down the ladder.

Moments later, Gresham firefighters appeared. Cody was taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation and later released.

When Marcos spoke with Mark Maunder, battalion chief, he realized he wasn’t in trouble.

On the contrary, he was encouraged to consider a career as a firefighter — something Marcos has taken to heart the past four days.

“(Marcos) and his dad did a remarkable job and kept their composure,” Maunder said. “It’s a tremendous outcome that could have been a tragic situation.”

The Ma family, Eduardo, Marcos, Julie and other neighbors remained outside the house until about 11 p.m. Monday.

Alex Ma, who only knew the Ugartes from passing waves in the neighborhood, embraced Marcos repeatedly as firefighters fought the blaze.

“You saved my son,” he said. “You saved my son.”

A spirit of service

Eduardo and Julie Urgate say they are blessed with three wonderful children, Roma, Marcos and Lucas.

“A lot of (Marcos’ emphathy) has developed because of his siblings,” Julie Urgate says.

Roma and Lucas have battled kidney failure throughout their lives, and have both received transplants.

“He’s had to spend a lot of time in hospitals and been stuck with babysitters, but he’s not bitter about it,” Julie says. “He always has an attitude of understanding.”

Along with playing starting cornerback for the freshman Gresham High School football team, Marcos participated in a service trip with his church this summer, building a house in Mexico.

“When he sees a need, he’s right there to lend a hand,” Eduardo Urgate says. “He has this spirit of service, and if there’s something that’s going to be done, this kid’s gonna do it.”

Bev Granato of Gresham, Marcos’ grandmother, was out of town during the hubbub. But after watching her grandson on “Good Morning America” and hearing people from across the country boasting of his heroism, Granato couldn’t wait to return to Troutdale and embrace Marcos on Wednesday night.

“I was dying to get home,” she says with tears in her eyes, as she finally hugs her grandson.




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  • 24 Dec 2014

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