New Rochelle Police Officer Timothy Childs was on patrol shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20 on Pelham Road when he saw smoke coming from a six-unit Franklin Avenue apartment building, prompting him to leap into action.
New Rochelle Police Capt. Cosmo Costa said that the officer alerted police headquarters and began to evacuate the building until help arrived.
Officer Phalen Pedro and Lt. Robert Wenzler responded and assisted in evacuating the building as firefighters came to the building to battle the blaze, while also venting the first-floor apartments from the outside.
Costa said that one of the residents alerted first responders that his friend had been sleeping on his couch and didn’t make it out. When officers climbed into the rear fire and attempted to rescue the resident, she refused to climb onto the fire escape due to her cats being inside.
The woman was ultimately rescued by members of the New Rochelle Fire Department, as were her cats.
While responding to the fire, Wenzler suffered a knee injury, while Childs and Pedro were treated for smoke inhalation. One of the residents also suffered a minor injury.
The fire caused significant damage to the right side of the building, leaving it uninhabitable, Costa said. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
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