NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some police officers did double duty as firefighters over the weekend.
According to New Rochelle police, Officer Timothy Childs spotted a house on fire on Franklin Avenue Saturday morning. Childs called it in and then started evacuating the six-unit building.
He was joined by Officer Phalan Pedro and Lt. Robert Wenzler. Together they managed to evacuate the building and vented the first floor apartments.
“It just happened so fast. It started and then it went… straight to the top, and I’ve never seen that before,” said neighbor Mariyam Muhammad, who called for help while her boyfriend captured the chaos on his cell phone.
By happenstance, help was already there.
Officer Childs was doing routine patrol when he saw the smoke and ran in.
“The officer that ran in, the superhero, because they’re superheroes to me, and he just started taking people out, and he sacrificed his life for other human life, and that’s what life is about. Life touches life,” Muhammad told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.
Muhammad watched Officers Childs and Pedro, and Lt. Wenzler assist in rescuing residents.
“The whole time, I’m like, ‘Please let everyone be OK.’ That’s all I was concerned about,” Muhammad said.
One of the building’s residents told the officers his friend hadn’t made it out. The officers then ran to the backyard, climbed the fire escape and spoke to the resident, who refused to leave because her cats were inside. Responding Fire Department personnel were ultimately able to rescue her.
Wenzler injured his knee and Pedro and Childs were both treated for smoke inhalation.
“During those times, you really don’t have much time to think. You just have time to act and thank god for our units that were there already and getting everybody out,” said Officer Joe Melendez, also from New Rochelle. “If he wasn’t there, we may be telling a different story right now.”
After the fire, the building was deemed uninhabitable.
Seven people were displaced. The Red Cross is now assisting the families.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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