Man named local hero after helping people escape fire at Bank of America in Greenville

Local News

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A normal day of running errands turned into a heroic act for Mike Ellis, Greenville County paramedic.

It was a split-second decision for Ellis when he was driving on Augusta Street and saw a Bank of America in flames.

Ellis said his reaction was a natural instinct.

“I’d seen a lot of smoke,” Ellis said.

When he saw flames, billowing in the distance, he stopped.

He says he couldn’t look the other way…

Ellis says, “I kind of banged on the window.. I banged on the window and was like hey, your buildings on fire. They didn’t know because smoke hadn’t started getting in the building just yet.”

He ran inside, escorting customers and workers out, but just when he thought everyone was safe.

“I said ‘Hey is anybody else in the bank?’ and they said 2 more people,” Ellis said.

The fire was getting larger, but he went back inside.

Ellis said, “I opened the door, stuck my head in and was like ‘Hey we need to start getting out.'”

Thanks to Ellis and his bravery, no one was hurt.

He’s now considered a local hero by the community, but says he doesn’t want the focus to be on him.

“It was simply I think what most humans would’ve done. Right place right time, I was glad to do it. The actual heroes actually showed up after me. The Greenville City Fire Department came in and they extinguished this blaze. They did a really good job,” Ellis said.

Some of the construction workers repairing the damage done from the fire say they’ve done a lot of work so far and the building will re-open on Monday.

Greenville County tells us ​once fire crews got there, the fire was put out in less than five minutes.

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