MANCHESTER — Quick-acting Manchester police officers roused the residents of a burning apartment building overnight Monday, likely saving lives by their actions, Manchester police said.
The early-morning fire caused extensive damage to a three-story apartment building on Auburn Street, Manchester fire officials said.
Heavy fire was showing from the top two floors and rear porches when fire crews arrived at 255 Auburn St., the fire department said. The fire department was alerted to the fire about 1:15 a.m. by Manchester police on patrol.
Manchester police spokeswoman Heather Hamel said Sgt. Michael Lavallee saw the flames while on patrol.
Starting at the top floor, where the flames were most intense, Lavallee started awakening and rousing residents. The rear stairwell was engulfed in flames and impassable, and Lavallee and several other officers led the residents through a door on the Auburn Street side.
“It is our belief that Sgt. Lavallee’s actions saved lives. If he hadn’t spotted the fire and if he and the other responding officers hadn’t woken up residents and evacuated the apartments, there likely could have been loss of life,” Hamel said.
Police officers also evacuated surrounding properties. The third floor occupant was later found safe, having exited the building on his own, police said.
The Red Cross is assisting occupants. The fire department said firefighters needed about an hour to get the fire under control.
The cause of the fire was undetermined, according to a statement released Tuesday morning. Police don’t believe the fire is suspicious but asked anyone with information about the fire to contact the police department.