MANCHESTER (AP) — A Manchester police sergeant on routine patrol who noticed an apartment building fire called for help and ran into the burning three-story house to help evacuate residents, a department spokesperson said Tuesday.
“There likely could have been loss of life" if Sgt. Michael Lavallee hadn't spotted the fire about 1:30 a.m. and the other responding officers hadn't woken up residents and evacuated the apartments, Heather Hamel, a spokesperson for the police department, said in a statement. All eight residents made it out safely.
Lavallee started on the third floor, which appeared to be the area with the most active fire, Hamel said. He was unable to make contact with anyone there and moved to the second floor, where he was joined by the other officers in helping people get out. One stairwell was already engulfed in flames and was impassable.
Police said the third-floor tenant was later found to be safe.
Responders also evacuated surrounding homes. One firefighter suffered a minor injury.
Fire crews said they battled heavy smoke and fire on the second and third floors and back porches. It took about an hour to bring the fire under control. The building is uninhabitable, they said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.