Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — Two off-duty Lockport police officers training for a marathon stumbled across a fire Monday afternoon and are being credited — along with two on-duty officers — for rescuing a man from his burning basement.
Officer Mike Stover and Lieutenant Todd Chenez were nearing the end of a two-mile run around 3:30 p.m. when they happened to see smoke coming from a home at 409 Hawley Street.
“They heard the sirens and then saw the smoke,” said Lockport Chief of Police Lawrence Eggert. “They said, ‘hey, it’s right here.’ They were in the right place at the right time.”
The officers ran to the home and a woman told them that her husband was still inside.
Stover and Chenez were greeted by heavy black smoke, which twice drove them back. The woman then said that her husband was in the basement.
“They took two steps inside and it was as black as black could be,” Eggert said of the first two attempts. “They were lucky that she told them he was in the basement.”
By that point, Lockport police officers Anthony Pittman and Heather Rohde had arrived and the four went in together to search for the man.
Eggert said they found the victim on the basement stairs, where he had collapsed. The man’s weight was estimated at 400 pounds, but Eggert said the four officers were able to lift him and pull him outside.
Lockport city firefighters were already on location when the four emerged from the smoke with the fire victim, who Eggert said was in “extreme physical distress.” Fire rescue personnel immediately placed the victim on a gurney and began to treat him.
The victim, Harold Storms, was first taken to Eastern Niagara Hospital-Lockport, but was later transferred to Erie County Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition Monday night.