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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Police Officer Sees Raging House Fire While on Call, Breaks Through Fence to Rescue Terrified Family

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Generally, you think of firefighters when you think of people saved from fires, but police officers are often the first on the scene — and when the situation calls for an emergency response, the life-saving efforts are often put in their hands.

In early March, a family home near 64th Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix, Arizona, started to burn.

Two police officers, who were responding to a call at a nearby apartment complex, spotted the smoke and rushed over.

Ruby Johnson-Smith, 80, the homeowner, was warned by her daughter that the house was on fire.

“And she ran and she said, ‘Mom get out, there’s a fire!’ So I’m like, ‘Fire?'” Johnson-Smith told KSAZ-TV.

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Not long after, police arrived and burst onto the property, with one officer even breaking down a section of fence to get to the backyard where Johnson’s daughter and four grandchildren had been, according to KPHO-TV/KTVK-TV.

They managed to get the entire family off the property and used a ladder propped up against a wall to get away from the fire.

The body camera footage from the rescue has been shared online, with many praising the brave actions of the responding officers.

At one point, when the family is seated after being safely rescued, they’re crying and the policeman reassures them, saying, “We’re going to take care of it, OK? They’re all OK, that’s all that matters.”

“[O]fficers were in the area of 64th Ave & McDowell when they saw smoke coming from a house,” the Phoenix Police Department tweeted Wednesday.

“Officers and neighbors immediately ran to help save a woman and her 4 small children. Thank you community members for helping alongside our officers.”

Firefighters arrived and were able to put the fire out, but according to their Facebook post, they encountered “heavy fire conditions.”

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Later, neighbors recalled the incident and how stressful it was — especially because at some points, the fire threatened to jump to nearby houses as well.

“She kept saying that her kids were in the backyard, and I thought they were by themselves. I was like, ‘Oh my God … we need to get those kids out of there,'” neighbor Josie Aragon told KSAZ.

“She’s a good neighbor and she’s a very loving person,” Aragon said of Johnson-Smith.

“He saved the family,” neighbor Annette Castillo said of the policeman who risked his life to escort the family out.

According to Johnson-Smith, the two police officers are heroes, and she fully believes they will be rewarded for their actions.

“There’s a crown for them,” she said. “God is going to crown them for the help that they did for us.

“I just feel blessed. Blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking