July 12--MIDDLETOWN -- Melisa Pearson never figured she'd be reunited with a former high school classmate with her house on fire.
But around 2 a.m. Wednesday, Middletown police officer Tim Meehan saw smoke and flames coming from the home at 2524 Buckingham Court. He banged on the front door and woke up the five residents, including a 6-year-old boy and his grandmother. All escaped unharmed, though the grandmother and Meehan were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
The first to wake up and answer the door was Pearson, a 1988 Middletown High School graduate, who said she recognized Meehan, a 1987 MHS graduate. She described the pounding on the door as "a cop's knock."
Pearson, 42, said she carried her mother, Patricia Roe, 59, out of the house and dropped her on the driveway, injuring her knee. Pearson's son, Nick Orick, 23, and her grandson, Brayden, 6, and her fiance, Eugene Mongar, 47, also got out safely.
When Mongar was alerted to the fire, he said he was "in a panic mood," unsure what to grab first.
A parrot, named Rocky, was also saved, Mongar said.
Pearson called Meehan "my hero."
Mongar added the officer was "our guardian angel."
Fire Department Capt. David Adams said a cause of the fire and damage estimates are unknown. He said the fire destroyed the garage, which is where the fire started, and burned through the roof. Firefighters extinguished the fire before it reached a propane tank inside the garage. A 2006 Ford 150 pickup truck that was parked in the garage was heavily damaged, Mongar said.
Mongar estimated the damage to the house and contents at less than $100,000.
Mongar and Pearson said they felt fortunate the fire occurred during the week instead of the weekend because they watch their six grandchildren every weekend.
Pearson looked at the damaged garage and said: "Everything can be replaced but us."
Because of recent robberies in the neighborhood, there are five locks on the front door, Pearson said. That's why Meehan was unable to kick the door down, she said.
Had Meehan not alerted the family, Mongar said: "We'd not be here today."
He is on vacation this week and was hoping to paint the inside of their home and clean the carpet.
"That will have to wait," he said while standing outside the home, the smell of smoke still in the air.
Middletown resident Britnee Carter also acted quickly. She was on the way back from the store when she saw the smoke. She called 911. She thought the fire was coming from a smoke pit.
"But something, I say it's God, told me to turn down the street and when I turned I saw smoke coming from the house and I could see the garage was on fire," she said.
The Butler County American Red Cross assisted the family with a lodging voucher and a $100 gift card, officials said.
This was the third fire crews extinguished during their shift.
It took them 90 minutes to extinguish a detached garage fire called in at 6:30 p.m. on Brentwood Street. The garage was destroyed.
Fire crews responded around 10:30 p.m. to Wausau Paper for a fire on the roof, which Adams called "labor intensive" because of the amount of material needed to be cut back. A damage estimate and cause has not been figured for that fire, he said.
Michael Periatt contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 - Middletown Journal, Ohio