Pa. officer rescues 3 in house blaze

By Larry King
The Philadelphia Inquirer 
BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. — A muscular police officer broke into a burning Bucks County home early yesterday and helped three residents to escape the flames — one of them draped over his back.

Six people -- including two officers and a firefighter -- were injured, Northampton Township Police Chief Barry Pilla said. One occupant of the house remained hospitalized last night.

The injuries might have been far worse, Pilla said, had not Officer Jack Kenney, 31, broken through the locked front door and raced into the burning home on Buck Hill Drive.

A passing motorist had reported seeing flames in the windows at 1:33 a.m., Pilla said. Kenney, on patrol nearby, was there within three minutes.

The officer helped rouse James and Maria Brennan, a couple in their 50s, Pilla said.

Kenney then hoisted Maria Brennan's mother, Yolanda Melchiorre, and carried her over his shoulder from an upstairs bedroom. A pet dog also escaped.

A second officer, Michael Rodgers, 29, went into the house to check for other occupants, Pilla said. Both he and Kenney were treated at St. Mary Medical Center for smoke inhalation.

Kenney, Pilla said, is a hulking man who engages in power lifting. That he was so close when the call came in "was just one of those things where the stars were lined up right."

The Brennans were treated for minor injuries at St. Mary, Pilla said, as was an unidentified firefighter. Melchiorre was transferred to Temple University Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition last night in the intensive care unit.

The home was heavily damaged, Pilla said. Officials were investigating the fire's cause and origin.

Northampton Deputy Fire Chief Rob Holmes said it took 35 minutes to bring the blaze under control. He said the home had a working smoke detector, which awoke the residents and contributed to the good outcome.

"The ... smoke detector saved them," he said, "in combination with the fast work of the Police Department."

Copyright 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer   

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