Officer kicks in door to rescue elderly couple trapped in fire - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Officer kicks in door to rescue elderly couple trapped in fire

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TEMPE, Ariz. -

A family in danger, trapped inside their burning home, was rescued by a brave Tempe police officer.

It was a desperate call for help from an elderly Tempe couple, trapped inside their burning mobile home.

The 72-year-old man and his 71-year-old wife were trapped in their house. The front door was engulfed in flames, the back door blocked.

Dispatch: "911 what is your emergency?"

Caller: "Yeah we need the fire department."

It was a terrifying 911 call as an elderly couple pleaded for help.

Dispatch: "Ok does anyone live there?"

Caller: "yeah were in the house we can't get out!"

Dispatch: "Ok you're in there?"

Caller: "Yeah. We can't breathe."

Dispatch: "You can't get out any other way?"

Caller: "No no we need the door open, we can't open it."

Dispatch: "Is there only that one door?"

Caller: "The other door is on fire I can't get out there."

Down the street, Tempe Police Officer Paul Elenius was patrolling and was first on the scene.

"Upon hearing the screaming and knowing backup was a little way out I knew I had to try to make entry if I could," says Officer Elenius.

The front door of the mobile home was on fire. The back door, the couple's only escape route, was blocked by furniture on the inside. Smoke took over the house.

Dispatch: "You need to lay down on the floor get down on the floor honey."

"Something came over me, I got a little extra strength gave it a second kick at that time thankfully the door was able to break free," says Elenius.

The officer can be heard toward the end of the 911 tape: "Get out get out, give me your hand, come here come here come here!"

"Reached down grabbed a hand, ended up being the elderly female I was able to drag her to the sidewalk here."

The call lasts almost 5 minutes the officer rescued the couple, just in the nick of time.

"The victims inside had literally seconds, had Officer Elenius not gone in there and done what he did I don't think our outcome would have been as positive as it is now, so truly heroic what he did," says Tempe Fire Asst Chief John Valenzuela.

"At the time I was just focused on trying to get them out. I had adrenaline going so that kept me going," says Elenius.

The officer and the couple were treated for smoke inhalation.

The 71-year-old woman is still in the hospital in critical condition. Her husband is in stable condition.

Fire investigators believe a water heater may be to blame for the fire. The house had a working smoke detector.

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