Metro-East News

Cahokia officers hailed as heroes after rescue of disabled people from house fire

The five officers pulled two disabled people from a burning home, officials say.
The five officers pulled two disabled people from a burning home, officials say. BND file photo

Five Cahokia police officers are being hailed as heroes after they pulled a pair of disabled people from a burning home.

According to Police Chief Larry Purcell, the officers arrived at just before 10:30 p.m. Sunday at a home at 54 St. Ambrose St. to find the residence full of smoke.

A 57-year-old woman with a physical disability had fallen asleep while smoking on the sofa and caught it on fire. A 76-year old man who needs a walker to get around was sleeping in a back bedroom.

“We absolutely consider these officers to be heroes,” Purcell said. “I’m sure they’d say that it’s all in a day’s work. But we’re really proud of them for what they were able to do.”

The officers are:

▪  Lt. Gary Brewer

▪  Patrolman David Heine

▪  Patrolman Gary Craig

▪  Patrolman Eric Waszak

▪  Patrolman Courtney Ross

We absolutely consider these officers to be heroes. I’m sure they’d say that it’s all in a day’s work. But we’re really proud of them for what they were able to do.

Cahokia Police Chief Larry Purcell

Purcell said Brewer and Heine carried the female victim out the house while the others had to drag the male victim, who resisted their insistence he leave the home, outside.

Police officers made the rescue because they arrived at the house about two minutes before firefighters were able to arrive and put out the flames.

“It was just a couple of minutes, but I’m sure in that situation that it probably seemed like a half hour,” Purcell said.

Damage to the home was minimal, except for smoke damage and the fact that officers had to smash a window for ventilation.

The victims, whose names were not released by police, refused medical attention and were taken to the home of a relative.

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