Officer Helps Save Dozens Of People From Apartment Fire
WEST VALLEY CITY – Dozens of people are displaced from their homes after their apartment building caught fire early Monday morning.
The blaze happened off 3100 South just east of Decker Lake Drive in West Valley City.
It wasn’t the fire alarms or even the sound of crackling flames that woke up residents living at the Apartments at Decker Lake. Some residents said they never even heard their smoke detectors or fire alarms go off.
“By the time I woke up, the flames were big and the police were coming around and knocking and I’m sound asleep,” said resident Fred Schaffer. “I just looked out the window and thought, ‘Hey time to go.”
Had it not been for one very heroic West Valley City police officer who happened to be at the right place at the right time, the situation could have turned deadly.
“Just before 2:30 this morning we had a police officer sitting in the church parking lot here behind us,” said West Valley City Fire Department Battalion Chief Jed Peters. “He noticed the building across the street was on fire (and) rushed over to start evacuating the occupants of the building.”
Peters said the officer managed to get most of the residents out of the building, which included eight apartments, before crews arrived on scene. However, one couple remained trapped.
Thanks to teamwork, officers helped guide them out safely. Lines of evacuees then took shelter at a meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the street.
“(I came) over with a friend of mine – one of the neighbors,” Schaffer said. “He’d run out barefoot, so we came over here to keep his feet warm.”,” said Schaffer.
Several hours later, most of the residents remained in their pajamas holding whatever belongings they could quickly grab at the time of escaping the fire. A total of 16 apartments were evacuated after a neighboring building also flooded.
Despite the turn of events, residents were grateful they all made it out. However, others were left devastated they have no home to return to.
Fire investigators are still identifying a cause. The American Red Cross has assisted about 30 residents total with finding hotels to stay at. The estimated cost of damage is $1 million.
WVCPD officers caught the amazing rescue efforts on their body cam and released the video Monday afternoon.
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