Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Elyria – With manpower low Tuesday morning for the Fire Department, Captain Joe Pronesti said he asked Elyria Police Officer Rick Walker if he could help with evacuations in the surrounding homes.
Walker, along with Sgt. Rich Ellis, Officer Jim Rider, Officer Paul Lesner and Officer Scott Ashley began going house to house to alert and evacuate families.

The first house was just to the left of the fire house – 112 Highland. Walker began pounding on the door with no response so he forced his way in by kicking the door. Walker found a child in the downstairs portion of the home and woke him up then began helping the rest of the family down from the 2nd floor. By the time everyone was together the heat and smoke near the door became too over powering so Walker decided to get everyone out through a window on the other side of the home. Just outside that window were Sgt. Rich Ellis and Officer Paul Lesner. Walker began handing babies and children to Ellis and Lesner who then handed them over to the parents. Officer Jim Rider then took the family to his patrol car to keep them warm as most had barely any clothes on their backs.

Walker and Lesner then went to the house just to the right of the fire house and evacuated 3 residents while Rider and Ellis went to a home just behind the fire house and assisted a wheelchair bound elderly woman out of the house to safety.

Officers checked other homes but found nobody inside. In all 11 people were evacuated by Officers and turned over to the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The rescues took place just after the fire house had collapsed sending burning embers into the air throughout the neighborhood – creating an even more hazardous situation. Combine that with the extreme heat from the fire and the thick smoke it was amazing that all residents, Officers and Firefighters left the scene without injury.

PS: About an hour or so after the fire was knocked down and things began settling down an employee from Ohio Edison spotted people back inside of the house just to the right of the fire house. The worker was about to cut power to the house when a woman looked through the window to see what was going on. Officer Walker, along with an Elyria Firefighter and Justin Willis, went into the home and again assisted the people back out of the house – this time with belongings and pets.



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