An off-duty police officer who was riding his bike and the police chief’s brother, who had been having dinner nearby, broke down a door to rescue an elderly woman and her daughter from a burning home in Arlington Tuesday night.
Arlington police Officer Michael Hogan was cycling through his neighborhood at 6 p.m., returning home after training for August’s Pan Mass Challenge ride, when he noticed smoke pouring from a house on a side street.
He immediately called his department, learned the fire was at a building on Webster Street, and “flew down the street,” the officer said.
When Hogan arrived at the two-family residence at 57-59 Webster St., he saw the police chief’s brother, John Flynn, at the front door, pounding with a hammer to get it open. Flynn had been having dinner at his parents’ house nearby.
The two men knew they had to act quickly.
“This house was cranking,” Hogan said. “You could hear the crackling and popping from the flames.”
The two smashed the door open on the first floor. They saw two women walking toward them, one of whom appeared to be in her 80s.
“There was tons of glass on the floor from breaking down the door,” Hogan said, “So I picked her up and carried her across the street to safety.”
Flynn did the same with the other woman, who Hogan said was the woman’s daughter. Flynn then went through the house to make sure no one else was inside, Hogan said.
Minutes after Hogan and Flynn brought the women to safety, the Arlington Fire Department arrived. The back deck and rear of the two-family home were fully engulfed in flames, leading to a second alarm being struck, Deputy Fire Chief James Bailey said. The fire was extinguished by 6:30 p.m.
The blaze was caused by a second-floor resident who discarded a cigarette butt in a planter on the deck, officials said. The second floor is now uninhabitable, Bailey said, with the blaze causing $300,000 to $350,000 in damage to the home.
All four residents were safely evacuated, Bailey said. No injuries were reported.
Hogan said that the elderly woman seemed to be fine when he brought her out of the house, and that he thought she had been taken to a hospital.
“She was a very nice lady,’’ Hogan said. “She and her daughter were really sweet to us.”
Hogan, who has been with the department for 12 years and also works as the department’s canine handler, said that he has helped assist in other fire situations before and that other people from his department have walked into burning buildings to save people.
“It’s just weird luck, being in the right place in the right time,” he said.