‘ Ex­tra­or­di­nary act of hero­ism’

Cen­tral Falls of­fi­cers res­cue 7 from week­end blaze

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BIS­SON­NETTE jbis­son­nette@paw­tuck­et­times.com

CEN­TRAL FALLS – A trio of Cen­tral Falls po­lice of­fi­cers are be­ing cred­ited with “an ex­tra­or­di­nary act of hero­ism,” af­ter sav­ing the lives of seven peo­ple who were sleep­ing early Satur­day morn­ing while their home was on fire.

Around 1:30 a.m., Of­fi­cer Yo­maira Ro­driguez was pa­trolling the area of Earle Street near Cross­man Street when she no­ticed a build­ing at 137 Earle St. was on fire, po­lice of­fi­cials said. She im­me­di­ately no­ti­fied of­fi­cers in the area of the sit­u­a­tion, and two ad­di­tional of­fi­cers – Sgt. Der­rick Levasseur and Of­fi­cer Bari Cameron – ar­rived sec­onds later. Due to the sever­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, po­lice said, the trio en­tered the burn­ing build­ing to search for any oc­cu­pants.

Levasseur and Cameron en­tered the first floor apart­ment and lo­cated a hus­band, wife, and their three-year-old son asleep in bed to­gether in a bed­room that was al­ready fill­ing with smoke, po­lice said. The fam­ily were safely re­moved from the apart­ment.

Ro­driguez en­tered the sec­ond­floor apart­ment and found three women and a man who were also sleep­ing and had no idea that their apart­ment was fill­ing with smoke.

Po­lice Chief Col. James J.

“If not for their quick ac­tions, the head­lines very eas­ily would’ve read dif­fer­ently with seven civil­ians and three of­fi­cers who may have per­ished.” — Cen­tral Falls Po­lice Chief Col. James J. Men­donca

Men­donca on Satur­day morn­ing lauded the of­fi­cers, say­ing “I think a sit­u­a­tion like this would be deemed as an ex­tra­or­di­nary act of hero­ism. With­out quick ac­tion, the res­i­dents un­doubt­edly would have per­ished.”

Po­lice be­lieve that had the res­i­dents not been re­moved by the of­fi­cers when they were, the car­bon monox­ide would have in­ca­pac­i­tated them.

Men­donca said that within sec­onds of evac­u­at­ing the ten­ants, the res­i­dence burst into flames, show­ing that the of­fi­cers lit­er­ally had sec­onds to save the lives of seven in­di­vid­u­als.

“If not for their quick ac­tions, the head­lines very eas­ily would've read dif­fer­ently with seven civil­ians and three of­fi­cers who may have per­ished,” Men­donca said.

Men­donca said that Ro­driguez, Levasseur, and Cameron are all be­ing rec­om­mended for the Medal of Valor. He added that if one were to ask the three about

their ac­tions, none would rec­og­nize them­selves as he­roes but rather that they were just do­ing their jobs.

“But it's ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­one that their ac­tions were coura­geous and heroic,” Men­donca said.

Po­lice on Satur­day said there is ev­i­dence that sug­gests the fire was in­ten­tion­ally set. Mem­bers of the Po­lice De­part­ment’s De­tec­tive Bureau are cur­rently work­ing in con­junc­tion with the State Fire Mar­shal’s Of­fice and the Cen­tral Falls Fire De­part­ment to fully in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent. The sus­pected ar­son is cur­rently an open in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Au­thor­i­ties say sur­veil­lance video shows a man ap­proach the build­ing's porch and start a fire. Fire of­fi­cials are of­fer­ing a $5,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion about the man. If any­one has in­for­ma­tion on the sus­pected ar­son, they are asked to con­tact Cen­tral Falls Po­lice at 401727-7411 and that they should ask to speak with a de­tec­tive.

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