Off-duty firefighters help rescue a woman from Burlington apartment fire

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Every day is different for Robert Layton and Andy Koczak.

"Another day in the life you know," said Layton, who is a Carrboro firefighter.

Their full-time job consist of battling scorching flames as firemen.

When that's not happening, they're working hard at their part-time job at Buckner's Lawn Care.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, they had no idea they would have to do both of their jobs in the same day.

"That's when we noticed the apartment was on fire," Layton said.

Layton and Koczak jumped into action after seeing black smoke surround a housing authority apartment on Maple Street.

"We picked up the pace and we took off running over there," Layton said.

They reached the back door first and saw it was unlocked as the fire roared through the kitchen.

"You can instantly see the smoke is to the floor," said Koczak, a Mebane firefighter. "It's thick, it's black".

With no way to get inside, their firemen instincts took them to the front door. That's when they heard desperate cries for help at the top of the stairs.

"We weren't going to sit there and listen to this lady die," Layton said.

They began kicking the door until it opened.

The smoke was too thick and dangerous to enter the unit. The two firemen began coaching the lady down the stairwell to safety.

"As soon as we saw her, she was maybe a few steps from the bottom and we walked in and grabbed her and pulled her out," Layton said.

Meanwhile, both men say their efforts pale in comparison to the help that came shortly after.

"There was a bunch of other people involved so big shout out to them as well," Layton said.

Fire investigators have confirmed that unattended cooking is the cause of the fire.

They tell FOX8 two people, including a firefighter, were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, but are expected to be OK.