NYPD officer saves a dozen from house fire

By Michael Frazier

NEW YORK With flames engulfing the Bronx home yesterday morning, New York police officers Christopher Scott and Michael Welsh couldn't wait for firefighters.

So they rushed into the 2 1/2-story house to help lead residents to safety.

Minutes later, the officers had to brave flames for a second time when the fire spread to a neighboring house.

"We were hoping that would've been there but they weren't," said Scott, who suffered scalp burns when embers fell on his head as he was coming out of the first fire. "So we went right back in."

The officers, both 14-year veterans, were on routine patrol when they spotted the flames and black smoke pouring out of the first home. They ran inside, searching for anyone on the upper floors.

Many of the residents had already made their way out of the home, Welsh said.

But the officers helped lead seven people out, including a mother holding her 2-month-old baby.

Once outside, and without a moment to catch a breath, Scott and Welsh saw the flames had spread to the second house. A tenant of that home opened the door for them and the officers ran inside.

The officers checked all three floors of the home and helped five people escape.

"We made sure no one was in there," Welsh said.

Flames first broke out about 9:15 a.m. on the second floor of a home at 374 Bronx Park Ave. in the West Farms section, fire officials said. The blaze then spread to a home at 376 Bronx Park Ave.

Firefighters arrived minutes after Scott and Welsh ran through the homes. The officers shouted for anyone home to escape. They banged on doors and kicked some open.

About 106 firefighters responded and the fires were brought under control in about an hour, fire officials said.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.

Seven firefighters and one resident were taken to Jacobi Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.

Scott was treated and released from St. Barnabas Hospital. His partner was uninjured.

It was unclear how many people lived in the two residences, which housed apartment units.

Police said two families were receiving services from the New York branch of the American Red Cross.

Copyright 2007 Newsday

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