11/18/2007

Wis. officer saves residents from fire

By Lawrence Sussman
The Milwaukee Journal sentinel

GRAFTON, Wis. - A homeowner is crediting police Sgt. Emmett Grissom with dousing a fire that could have destroyed the man's house.

Without Grissom's early warning, homeowner Dean La Fleur said, "My house would have gone up in smoke in a heartbeat."

Police said Grissom was on patrol in the area of Bobolink Ave. and Falls Road at about 11:48 p.m. Monday.

It was a blustery, cold night - windy enough for the National Weather Service to have issued a wind advisory during the day.

Grissom spotted smoke coming from a wood pile behind an attached garage at 1597 Bobolink Ave.

A fire had ignited in the woodpile, police said.

"Sgt. Grissom banged on the door," La Fleur said, "and he said very sternly: 'Did you know your house was on fire? Please step out of the house.' "

La Fleur, 44, in boxer shorts and bare feet, along with his wife, Heather, 38, evacuated the house.

Grissom showed Dean La Fleur the fire.

"My wood pile looked like a camp fire," La Fleur said.

He and Grissom went inside the garage and grabbed two fire extinguishers, which La Fleur had on hand.

The pair doused the fire, and La Fleur said the damage was quite minimal to the side of his garage.

"We're very thankful for his awareness, and for his quick thinking on his feet," La Fleur said.

Fire Chief David Harvey said his department has not determined how the fire started.

"There could have been something smoldering in that pile for weeks," Harvey said. "We had the oxygen and high wind. We had the lumber for the fuel.

"Sgt. Grissom did an excellent job waking the home owner," Harvey said, "and did what he had to put out the fire."

Copyright 2007, Journal Sentinel Inc.

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