BERLIN — Two local police officers who rescued a woman from a burning house are being lauded for their quick, unselfish actions.
Sgt. Nathan Roy and Officer Matthew Carter were first to arrive at the scene of a fully engulfed structure fire at 613 Western Ave. around 3:34 a.m. Sunday. The two went into the building and took Cynthia Gagnon out before firefighters arrived, not only saving her life, but allowing the Berlin Fire Department firefighters to focus their efforts on extinguishing the fire and protecting surrounding property.
Their actions have earned them the praise of city officials and of the local members of the firefighters union. The union sent a thank-you letter to Berlin Police Chief Peter Morency and the Berlin Police Commission, which was included in Mayor Paul Grenier’s report to the city council Monday.
“Knowing the occupant of the residence was inside,” the firefighters wrote, “they entered the burning building and were able to remove the victim and the family dog and bring both to safety. The smoke inside the structure was so thick Sergeant Roy could hear the call for help but couldn’t see the victim. He was several feet inside the heavily burning building when he spotted her hand and with the assistance of Officer Carter they were able to save her life.”
“These two officers made a split-second decision to enter the structure and rescue the occupant. They most definitely saved this individual’s life,” the members of the fire department wrote.
On Thursday, Morency said he is extremely proud of the officers. He said that while he recognizes that every day officers place themselves at risk, he commended the two “for having gone above and beyond the call of duty in order to protect their community.”
Cynthia Gagnon was home alone in the house that she had shared with her husband, Michael Gagnon.
“There is no question that these two police officers went above and beyond the call of duty and showed great courage and professionalism in their heroic actions,” city manager Patrick MacQueen said in his report to the council.
On Thursday, Fire Chief Randall Trull said, “I commend the officers in two different ways: one, they put themselves at risk for the safety of others; two, they showed professionalism in how they did it by acting as if it was (just) another day on the job.”
Trull said it was a working structure fire that was “heavily involved” when the departments responded. A crew of four immediately set out an advanced line attack and established a water supply. Thirteen firefighters responded to a general alarm to assist the crew.
Also responding were Berlin Public Works, the Red Cross, Berlin EMS and the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
The fire remains under investigation by the Berlin Police Department, Berlin Fire Department and the state Fire Marshal.
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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.