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Ga. officer rescues mother, toddler from fire

By Andria Simmons
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County police officer is being hailed as a hero after rescuing a woman and her toddler from a burning condominium over the weekend.

Officer Craig Metzler was first to arrive when a fire call was dispatched at 1416 Glenleaf Drive in Norcross at 3:36 a.m. Sunday, department spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said.

The condo was engulfed in smoke and flames when the officer spotted a woman and her young child signaling for help at a third-floor bedroom window. The pair was trapped inside, their exit blocked because the fire had sprung up between the bedroom and stairwell, said Capt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for Gwinnett County Department of Fire & Emergency Services.

Metzler ran to an adjacent condo unit and knocked on the door. The occupant allowed Metzler inside to access a window a few feet away from the burning condo, Spellman said.

Metzler reportedly leaned out of the window as the woman handed her toddler over to him. He then coached the woman to make her way a few feet along the roof line until he could pull her through the window.

Police said both the woman and her child escaped safely.

The blaze was caused accidentally by a candle left burning in the woman's apartment, according to fire investigators. The fire was contained to that unit, which sustained moderate damage, Rutledge said.

"It's just a miracle that they weren't overcome by smoke or that the fire had not spread into the bedroom," Rutledge said Tuesday.

Rutledge said the officer was modest about his response, adding "he says he was just doing his job."

The officer declined through a police spokesman to be interviewed. Police did not write a report on the incident, so information about the woman Metzler rescued was not available Tuesday.

Metzler, 29, has been working for the Gwinnett County Police Department since the winter of 2006. He will likely get some sort of official recognition from the department for the "heroic effort" put forth, Spellman said.

"I'm sure that's in the works for him," Spellman said. "He definitely did a really awesome job."

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