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'I wasn't going to leave him:' Atlantic Beach man saves neighbors from fire, still searching for new home

Greg Franek has spent two months still grappling with losing his home of 22 years.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — Saving lives, now fighting for his own.

An Atlantic Beach man is still grappling with the damage left behind from a massive fire at his home.

Every few days, Greg Franek comes by his home of 22 years on Beach Avenue. It's charred beyond recognition.

"That's how I'm coping with things," said Franek. "The first couple of days, I couldn't even be around it."

When he looks up at the burnt windows, the memories from that night in early June come rushing back.

RELATED: Six apartments and a house ignite in Atlantic Beach structure fire

"I couldn't even see the kitchen, so I ran down the steps," said Franek. "No shoes, no socks, just shorts because I was worried about all my neighbors."

Franek called one neighbor and ran toward another's apartment to get him out before the flames got worse.

"I went to, pound, pound, nothing, so I went to get a brick to break his glass door because I wasn't going to leave him," said Franek.

He says when the firefighters arrived, they told him if he had woken up ten minutes later, it would've been too late.

Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser presented him with a key to the city for his lifesaving efforts.

But, more than a key, right now, Franek needs a new home.

"A place where I can sleep, even if it's a twin bed and a bathroom," said Franek. "I don't care about anything else right now."

Franek says he's had some kind friends who've put him up for a few weeks here or there, but nothing permanent.

He needs a place in Atlantic Beach, so he can bike to dialysis treatments several times a week while he waits for a new kidney.

"My doctor told me, 'Look, you could've easily died, your neighbor could've easily died, but God must have a plan. You're going to get a kidney sooner than later, so you have to stay positive,'" said Franek.

Through it all, he hasn't lost his sense of humor.

"I've always wanted a skylight, now I have like eight skylights because of the fire," said Franek.

For anyone looking to help, friends have set up a GoFundMe page.

Greg Franek says if anyone has O positive blood with a kidney they are willing to donate, all they have to do is go to the Mayo Clinic and write down his name as the recipient.

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