Mechanical engineer honored as 'hometown hero' after saving family from fire

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mechanical engineering junior Paul Shields was recently named a Hometown Hero by CBS Pittsburgh for saving his neighbors' lives.

Shields, a Pittsburgh native, helped his neighbors escape a house fire Nov. 23.

Shields awoke the morning after Thanksgiving and saw smoke coming from the back of his neighbor's house. The North Hills High School graduate rushed across the street and pounded on the door to wake his neighbors up. The father, Jeffrey Heyl, met Shields at the door and was alerted that their back deck was on fire. The entire family was able to safely evacuate their house.

The fire took more than seven hours to extinguish. It started from hot ashes from a wood-burning stove that were put on the deck on Thanksgiving Day. Wind had blown the ashes onto a nearby kickboxing dummy, setting it on fire.

According to fire officials, the intensity and speed of the fire would have hindered the Heyl family's escape had they not been warned by Shields.

Shields was nominated by a co-worker who is also a neighbor. He received a plaque on March 7 from Ross Township and a citation from the state's House of Representatives. Each Hometown Hero also received a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. Shields donated his award to the Intrafraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon charity for children with cancer.

Last Updated April 27, 2013