Off Duty Firefighter rescues man from burning building
Around 11 pm Saturday June 2nd Daryl Williams and his wife Lisa O`Hagan were traveling to Lennoxville to pick up their daughter when the couple came across a burning building, known locally as the Old Bretagne bar on Route 143 near Waterville. On approach they saw a column of smoke and fully expected the Waterville fire department to be on scene. This was not the case as they were the first to notice the two story structure fire. There were no vehicles in the yard.
Without hesitation Daryl asked Lisa to call 911and request the Waterville fire department and an ambulance and that he was going to “have a look”.
Heavy smoke was visible in the first floor windows which were breaking from the intense heat. As the windows broke, flames ignited the hot smoke leaving the windows. When Mr. Williams opened the front door the smoke was down to two feet from the floor and flames were exiting the doorway at the top. He yelled into the room to see if he could get a response from potential victims. The smoke conditions improved by opening the door but the fire was now well ventilated. Given the fact that he is a Captain with the North Hatley-Hatley Township Fire Department for the last 15 plus years, he understood very well that it was a matter of time before the entire building would be engulfed in flames. Putting his own personal safety aside, he took several deep breaths and entered the room on his hands and knees, searching for potential victims. He found none and could not find a stairway to the second floor. He exited and began searching for a ladder. Once at the rear of the building he found there was a balcony at the back of the first floor and an exterior staircase to the second floor apartment. He went to the first balcony patio door but found it locked. He then found an exercise bicycle and threw it through the glass, breaking it. He entered and searched the room. He then proceeded to the second floor apartment and looked through the windows and found heavy smoke there as well. Mr. Williams started pounding on the door. The door and frame completely fell out of the wall. He then entered a third time on his hands and knees’ knowing full well the floor below him was burning at a rapid rate. The heavy black smoke was down to 2 feet from the floor. He entered approximately 12 feet and found a man in his twenties asleep on the couch. He pounded on his chest to wake him, telling him “We gotta go, now!” The victim awoke, and agreed. Even though they could not see each other through the smoke at arms length, he put his trust in the firefighter and the two exited to safety. All of this took less than a couple of minutes.
Within less than five minutes, the Waterville fire department arrived on scene to a totally engulfed structure. They then requested support through the mutual aid system from both Compton and North Hatley-Canton Hatley Fire Departments, the latter which Captain Williams serves. Over the next 5-6 hours the structure was reduced to debris but, most