James Smith had never met Jesse Avery before Monday morning. Just after 10 a.m., Smith looked around, shaken and draped in a blanket, hoping to give a heartfelt thanks to his neighbor.That’s because Avery — an off-duty Vancouver firefighter — had just rescued Smith from his second-story unit at 711 E. 19th St. as a fire burned behind him.“That is like the best kind of neighbor you could have,” Smith said.With a load of laundry spinning in the dryer, Smith was taking a shower Monday morning when his smoke alarm started screaming. He rushed out, then opened the door where the smoke was coming from. Smith was greeted by a strong “yellow glow,” he said. He shut the door and went to the window facing 19th Street, leaning outside but still trapped.Below, Avery was alerted by his mother-in-law and others on the street who noticed what was going on. Avery grabbed a ladder from his garage and propped it up near Smith’s window. Wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a pair of shorts, Avery climbed up and helped get Smith down to safety. The rescue was over in a matter of minutes.“It felt like forever,” Smith said.Smith was already out of the window by the time the first Vancouver Fire Department truck arrived on scene. Crews had the fire out less than 10 minutes after the initial 911 call, said public information officer Kevin Stromberg.