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Mystery Hero in Pizza Station Fire Comes Forward

A South Salem man who banged on doors to help residents escape a fire in Katonah said he didn't feel like a hero when he entered the smoking building.

On Wednesday, Jon Jensen of South Salem missed the train he typically takes to work each morning as a commodities trader in New York City.

With a few extra minutes to spare while he waited for the next train, he went to get a cup of coffee, then noticed some locals watching smoke billowing out of The Pizza Station at 25 The Parkway.

Ann Luria, owner of , had just reported the fire, he said, and he and a few others were watching the windows turn opaque from the smoke filling the ground floor of the building.

"At that point, an older man mentioned the apartments upstairs from the pizzeria, and I just went in," said Jensen, 52. "I didn't feel like a hero when I was doing it. I was just glad to see everyone get out safely."

The fire started just before 7 a.m. ahe fire was knocked down in about 15-20 minutes with assistance from neighboring fire departments.

Jensen entered the apartments from a side alley, walked up the three flights of stairs and started banging on the doors to the four apartments. Once roused, the residents fled their homes quickly and gathered outside, he said.

"I did think for a minute about the fact that the pizzeria might be tied to natural gas," he admitted. "But then the fire department arrived and they knew what they were doing."

After he saw all of the residents—including two small girls—exit the building, Jensen made his way back to the Metro North platform and headed to work.

Nicole Jones, who lives in one of the upstairs apartments, called Jensen—who was unidentified until now—"an angel of God."

Judith and Julio Milla, parents to the two girls, Arami and Pamela, heard Jensen knocking on their door and said if he hadn't, they may have slept too late to escape without any danger.

"If I saw that man I would say thank you so much," said Judith Milla. "No smoke alarm went off or anything. He's my hero."

Jensen is a reluctant hero. His sister, Susan Jensen, first contacted Patch to say how proud she was of her brother for his good deeds.

"It does not suprise me at all that he did not stay on the scene to identify himself because that's the kind of man he is. He just does good things for people and doesn't expect anything at all in return," she said, adding she thought it was divine intervention that Jensen missed the train on the morning of the fire.

When told he had a few fans in Katonah that wanted to thank him for saving them from the smoke, Jensen shrugged it off.

"The best part was just seeing those kids smiling and safe," he said.

Deborah Spieler November 17, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Wonderful story!
Jill Bryant November 17, 2011 at 03:22 PM
It's so great to hear about a bystander taking action. Katonah's a wonderful town!

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