Jan. 22--Two Broward sheriff's deputies carried an unconscious 80-year-old man from his burning home in Oakland Park on Saturday morning.
Paramedics revived him before rushing him to Holy Cross Hospital, according to Oakland Park Fire Rescue.
The fire happened just after 7 a.m. in the home on the 4300 block of Northeast 17th Avenue, according to city spokesman David Rafter. A passing neighbor noticed smoke coming from the roof and called for help.
Deputy Pete Storey, a 24-year veteran, was the first on the scene. He was joined by Deputy Neil Dodge, a seven-year veteran.
Seeing cars in the driveway, the deputies assumed someone was in the house. But they got no response to knocking on the front door.
"We didn't have to force entry," Dodge said. "Thank God, there was a rear sliding glass door that was unlocked and we were able to get in."
Dodge said he and Storey were immediately affected by the smoke but found the man passed out in the master bedroom. No one else was inside the home. The man's identity has not been released.
One deputy grabbed the man's legs while the other grabbed his arms. They carried the man through the living room and out the front door, Dodge said
"He was still very lethargic, incoherent, and his eyes looked like they were rolling back in his head," Dodge said.
Once paramedics started giving oxygen, the man started to "come around," Dodge said. "It was actually pretty amazing to watch."
"He perked right up," Storey said. "He's actually a volunteer at Holy Cross Hospital; just a real nice guy."
The rescue lasted about two minutes.
"This was my first [rescue] and hopefully my last," Dodge said. "I wouldn't want to see this happen to anyone else."
The deputies and the man were checked at the hospital for smoke inhalation, and they were able to meet and talk.
"I was super happy to see him OK," Dodge said. "He was obviously very, very appreciative and thanking both of us for everything. It was an overwhelming experience, that's for sure."
It ranked high as a career experience for Storey.
"When you can save a life, it's definitely up there," Storey said. "It's something that makes you feel good."
Fire Rescue Chief Donald P. Widing praised the deputies and his firefighters for working together to save a life.
Widing said the home received extensive damage from the fire and the smoke.
According to fire investigators, the victim had air conditioning system work completed Friday. Just before he went to bed at 1 a.m., he noticed the lights and certain appliances in the home were not working properly. The next thing he remembered was lying on the lawn in front of his house.
Oakland Park Fire Inspector Keith Braun and the State Fire Marshal's Office classified the cause of the electrical fire as accidental.
Wayne K. Roustan can be reached at [email protected] or 561-243-6623.