An employee with the Minneapolis Public Schools is being called a hero after he saved a woman and her child from a burning home while driving his daily mail delivery route for the school board.
With roads slick and covered with slush, Timothy Ross admits it was a difficult day to report for duty.
"I didn't want to come to work today but I did," Ross said.
After 27 years on the job, Ross knew it would take more than a winter storm to keep him from delivering mail for the Minneapolis School Board -- but he didn't know that braving the roads would lead him to saving someone's life.
"She says, 'Do you realize you saved my son and my life?' I said, 'Yeah,'" Ross told Fox 9 News. "She said, 'You're not really all excited.' I said, 'That's OK. Nobody got hurt here. Personal belongings can be replaced, but not human life.'"
It might seem like chance that Ross took a different route than he normally does to get to Patrick Henry High School on Wednesday morning, but that change in course along slick side streets brought him face to face with destiny.
"As I got turned on Freemont over there by 33rd going up the hill, I noticed some smoke and I said, 'This is no chimney smoke. This is a fire," Ross recalled.
Ross immediately called 911 and went up to the house to investigate -- and what he found was even more alarming. The occupants inside didn't have any clue something was wrong until Ross literally came knocking.
"I did the fireman knock -- Boom! Boom! -- real loud," Ross, a one-time reserve firefighter, recalled. "She said, 'Who is it?' I said, 'Your house is on fire.'"
The mother inside had just finished giving her young son a bath, so Ross helped her get the boy dressed and brought both of them to his truck to keep them safe and warm while the crew of Engine 14 spent about 30 minutes dousing the flames.
"I seen a lot of smoke, and I seen some fire shooting out of the roof and the porch," Ross said.
Yet, Ross didn't stop there. He also lent a hand to the firefighters at the scene.
"Who knows how long before someone else would have saw that smoke," Battalion Chief Andrew Norrgard said. "Maybe it gets extended interior further, and maybe we have a hard time getting somebody out then."
For Ross, the rescue is all in a day's work -- but it was clearly above and beyond for his employer. He even earned a special thanks from Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson.
"We have great people working in this district," she said. "Thanks for your heroism today."
Ross was part of the reserve firefighter crew until it was disbanded in the 1990s, but his enthusiasm for firefighting has led him to collect three vintage firetrucks, which he takes out for a spin during special events and parades.