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Officer credited with saving elderly woman from Campton fire

Union Leader Correspondent

March 07. 2015 11:29AM
Flames damaged a home at 88 Orchard St. in Campton Friday night. (Courtesy)

Flames damaged a home at 88 Orchard St. in Campton Friday night. (Courtesy)

CAMPTON – A police officer saved the life of an elderly woman from the smoke and flames of a two-alarm fire Thursday night, helping her crawl across the floor of her home under heavy smoke that filled the house.

Campton Police Officer Colby Morrison is being credited with saving the life of Nancy Szeliga, who had tried to escape the flames at her home at 88 Orchard St., but was stuck on the back porch, said Fire Chief Daniel Defosses.

“Had Officer Morrison not reached her in time, I don't want to think what would happened, she had nowhere to go, the fire and smoke had completely engulfed the home,” Defosses said.

Defosses said Morrison will likely be honored for his bravery.

The fire was discovered just before 7 p.m.

Nancy Szeliga, 79,  and her husband Richard Szeliga, 84, were in an upstairs bedroom when one of the heard a noise in the hall, which turned out to be a "chirp" from a smoke alarm that had a weak batter, Defosses said.

Both of them tried to get through the heavy smoke and flames, that came from the back area of the house near a chimney and a woodstove, the chief said, thought the cause is still unknown, he said.

Richard Szeliga and his dog managed to get out of the front of the house, while he wife was trapped on the back porch by smoke and flamed that encircled the porch.

Morrison, the first officer on the scene, crawled across the home's first floor to the porch, and then helped Nancy Szeliga reach crawl back across the floor to the front of the house, the chief said.

The couple were not injured, and no firefighters were injured, he said.

The home suffered "moderate" damage, Defosses said, but firefighters were able to save most if it, he said. The couple has temporary living quarters, he said.

"We made a great save on the house, it's not often you are able to save a home, particularly in this remote part of town," he said.

"We got most of the fire knocked down within 20 minutes or so. The big thing was saving the couple."

Firefighters from Ashland, Holderness, Plymouth, Rumney, Waterville Valley, New Hampton, Meredith, and Bristol aided town firefighters in fighting the flames.

Morrison (Courtesy)

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