Hero firefighter: 'She was just hanging there by a prayer'

NORTH BEND, Wash. - Firefighters don't like to be called heroes. But a week ago a Snoqualmie firefighter saved a woman's life, and he believes it was more than coincidence that put him in the right place at the right time.

The ordeal began on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, where firefighters say a woman with a large backpack was trying to cross the river. But the rocks are slippery, the current is swift, and within moments she ended up in the water, clinging to a log.

"She was just hanging there by a prayer," says Snoqualmie firefighter Brian Busby, who was off duty when he saw the woman at her moment of peril.

"My immediate concern was she was going to slip right under and go down," he says.

So Busby took a risk - climbing out on the wet log, grabbing hold, and determined not to let go.

"We have a saying," Busby says. "It's called, 'You risk a little to save a little, you risk a lot to save a lot.' And to me, that gal hanging there was a lot."

Sheriff's deputies arrived and helped until a water rescue team showed up to pull the woman and Busby to safety. She's at home recuperating - and Busby, a man of strong religious faith, is convinced why.

"It's obvious to me God directed my steps. He had me out there along that trail at just the right time," he says.

As it turns out, Busby dedicates much of his free time reaching out to the homeless. He helped establish an emergency shelter in North Bend.

"He'll go straight from his job, paramedic and doing firefighting - and not get any sleep - and he's out checking on people," says Debbie Brown, a homeless person.

Busby was out meeting with some homeless men who camp along the river the afternoon he heard a fisherman yelling, guiding him to that woman on the log.

"I just knew we were going to get her out," he says.

Firefighters don't know why the woman was trying to cross the river. She lives in North Bend, and Busby says he'd like to check in on her sometime.