In early October, an explosion inside a recreational vehicle parked at the campground at Santee Lakes left a young married couple badly burned, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

James and Carmen Ruelas, new residents at the Lakeshore Camping Loop who had been married for just over a year, were trying to bake a pizza in their oven when propane exploded. James, engulfed in flames, was hurtled out of the RV. Carmen also was set on fire.

Dylan Perkins, a Navy submarine machinist mate, and James Wagner, both long-term camping guests at the Lakes, were nearby and immediately responded. Perkins and Wagner extinguished the fire and tended to the Ruelases until paramedics arrived.

The board of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, which oversees Santee Lakes, will present Perkins and Wagner on Wednesday (Nov. 19) with a resolution acknowledging their bravery.

“(Perkins) came from behind me and said, ‘follow me,’ and right away I could see he knew what he was doing,” James Ruelas said from his family’s home in Mexico, where he and his wife are recuperating. “He said all the right things to put me at ease. If it wasn’t for both of them, who knows where we would be. He was right next to me, telling me to breathe. I remember thinking, ‘This guy is really doing it, he’s helping me.’”

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