‘ Extraordinary act of heroism’
Central Falls officers rescue 7 from weekend blaze
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.