By Matt Elofson
DOTHAN, Ala. — As officer Jeremy Wallace arrived at the home on West Powell Street late Thursday night he saw heavy smoke and flames shooting into the air.
Wallace, a patrol officer with the Dothan Police Department, responded to an emergency dispatch call of a fire at a home that possibly had two people inside, including a blind woman who was also an amputee. Wallace was the first of emergency personnel on the scene of the fire.
"I just felt like I needed to get in there and get these people out," Wallace said. "I could hear them screaming. I just did what I thought was right."
Wallace went to a side door and found it cracked open. As he entered the home he found what initially appeared, amid thick smoke, to be a woman.
"I couldn't see because there was so much smoke. She was just kind of standing over him, I guess like a protective mom, but they were both screaming," Wallace said. "I just kind of picked her up and carried her outside, and I just kind of picked him up off the floor like a sack a potatoes."
Using a flashlight, he believes he found the mother and son inside a laundry room.
Wallace guided the woman down a chain link fence before heading back inside the burning house a second time for the woman's son, who he found on the floor. After getting the man outside to safety Wallace inquired about other occupants in the home. He was told there were none. But the man asked about his mother. Wallace told him she was safe.
Dothan Fire Department Battalion Chief Chris Etheredge said no one was injured in the fire. He also said the fire appeared to be an accident.
The man and his mother could not be located Friday for comment.
Dothan Police Capt. David Jay, the supervisor of the patrol division, said a patrol officer is automatically dispatched to all fire dispatch calls in the city.
"It's not unheard of for officers to go and help people out of burning structures," Jay said. "That's what we do. We're here to protect the lives of our citizens any way we can."
Jay said it appeared Wallace had responded to the emergency fire call and was at the home within minutes. Paramedics checked out the home's occupants along with Wallace at the scene of fire.
Wallace recalled how he and the two people in the home had been coughing afterward from some apparent smoke inhalation. But no one was taken to a hospital.
Wallace, a two-year officer with the Dothan Police Department, said it was the first time he went in a burning building to rescue anyone.
"I was in the Army before this, and did three tours overseas (in Iraq and Afghanistan) so I've seen my fair share," Wallace said. "I just felt like I did what any good person would do, the best they could to help. As long as they're OK that's all that really matters at the end of the day. "
Copyright 2014 the Dothan Eagle
McClatchy-Tribune News Service