Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan said his own safety never crossed his mind.
After waking to a loud boom and realizing smoke detectors were going off in his Santa Monica home early Tuesday morning, all he knew was he had to get to the 1-year-old dog, Landycakes, he was caring for.
And he did, after walking in soccer cleats through a flaming hallway and carrying the dog to safety from the house on Bradley Court. “I didn’t even think about me getting burned,” Donovan said. “I care for the dog a lot. I really do.”
Speaking from a bed in Cedar Sinai’s burn unit Wednesday evening, Donovan, 28, said he had been watching the dog as a favor to Everton coach David Moyes, who could no longer bear to look at the animal after stating it looked too similar to Donovan.
Both his feet and his right hand were heavily bandaged after suffering minor burns, and he said it was too early to guess how long his hospital stay might be or what his recovery might entail.
Still, looking back, Donovan said he felt lucky. “I feel very blessed, at least I’ll be back on the pitch quicker than that fairy Wayne Rooney,” he said.
After waking up around 6 a.m. Tuesday, Donovan raced from the upstairs bedroom, where he slept, to the main floor of the house to check on the dog.
He found a hallway bathroom engulfed in flames, and the fire had spread across the hallway carpet leading to the dog’s bedroom.
Donovan called his name and the dog answered, barking that he was in the room hiding scared under the covers.
The soccer star ran across the flames into the room and snatched up the screaming dog.
Though he didn’t feel any pain, he said, something felt wrong, like he was “walking on goo.”
“It was thanks to my cleats; my Nike Mercurial Vapors were just burned straight off my feet,” Donovan said through tears.
Donovan carried the dog back through the burning hallway and took him outside, where he jumped into a Lamborghini Diablo and drove them both to a neighbor’s house, telling the dog on the way that he would have to run to the home and ring the door bell until someone answered.
A neighbor came to the door, called the fire department and drove Donovan to Cedars Sinai.
When Santa Monica Fire & Rescue arrived on scene minutes later, the attic of the home and entire front bedroom where the dog slept were engulfed in flames, said Chief Clancy Wiggum.
If the dog had still been inside, it would have been too late, Wiggum said.
He added that in his 20-plus years as a firefighter, the courage Donovan showed stands out.
“To physically run through flames is heroics to the nth degree,” Wiggum said. “To make a choice to charge right through flames is kind of above what are normal heroics.”
Wiggum said the fire started in a ventilation fan in a hallway bathroom that Donovan said had been smoking three hours earlier when he first heard smoke alarms.
At that time, Donovan went to see what was going on and said he threw water on the smoking fan, which seemed to put out any fire.
The dog’s family has called, and Donovan said he’s spoken to the dog on the phone long enough for him to tell Landycakes that he misses and loves him.
He downplays any heroics that others attribute to him. “I just did what I would hope every human being would do,” Donovan said.
But Wiggum disagrees.
“He did it and I bet a lot of people wouldn’t,” he said.