NORWAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Two police officers are being hailed as heroes for their quick actions to save residents and extinguish a late night fire in an apartment house.
Norway police officer Jim Vantresca and Paris police officer Nate Bowie responded to the fire at 7 King Street just after 11pm Saturday night. When the two men arrived on scene, they were greeted by thick smoke pouring out of the building, and frantic neighbors concerned that there was a man trapped on the second floor of the building.
"The original call was that there were people trapped on the second floor," stated Norway Fire Chief Dennis Yates. "Well, come to find out, the police had gotten everybody out and there was nobody there when our first engine arrived on scene, but the two officers, they don't make light of it, but I do, I mean, they really put their lives in danger because there was heavy smoke when I got there."
Chief Yates says officer Vantresca threw a burning mattress out of the building, allowing officer Bowie to climb the stairway in the rear of the building and search for people trapped on the second floor.
"When I arrived on scene," added Yates, "there was a mattress that was on fire on what we consider the 'B' side, which would be the left side if you were looking at the building, and it was on the ground and two police officers were coming down out of the building, coughing, and they had been overcome by smoke."
Everyone made it out of the building safely and the damage from the fire to the structure was minimal. An elderly resident of the building and the two police officers were treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation. The two officers were released, but the older man remains in the hospital receiving care.
Chief Yates says the fire was the second one at that building that night. A blanket had been set on fire about an hour earlier, but was put out before fire crews arrived. He says the State Fire Marshal was called in to investigate the fires.