A New Hampshire police sergeant is being credited with saving the residents of a burning building in Manchester after he spotted the fire early Tuesday morning.
Manchester police Sgt. Michael Lavallee was on routine patrol at about 1:15 a.m. when he noticed the heavy fire at a 3-story building on Auburn Street, the department said.
Lavallee called the fire in to dispatch and then went into the building to try and evacuate the residents inside, police said.
Because flames appeared to be the most active on the third floor, Lavallee tried to make contact with residents there but was unsuccessful. He then moved down to the second floor.
The sergeant was then joined by Lt. Robert Bellenoit and fellow officers Justin Gaudreault and Patrick Colburn.
"Residents were awoken and evacuated through a door on the Auburn Street side," police said in a statement. "The rear stairwell was already impassable as it was engulfed in flames."
All eight residents made it out safely, including the third-floor tenant who had already fled the building, police said.
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"I looked outside and there's firetrucks everywhere. And then I heard a loud blast -- to me what sounded like a shotgun blast at first. But then I could smell the smoke," said neighbor Justin Proulx who witnessed the fire.
No injuries were reported, but neighboring buildings were evacuated because of the fire.
"It is our belief that Sgt. Lavallee's actions saved lives. If he hadn't spotted the fire and if he and the other responding officers hadn't woken up residents and evacuated the apartments, there likely could have been loss of life," police said.
Neighbors are also thankful for the quick work of all the officers and firefighters.
"They did a great job the way that they came in and they were evacuating the whole building… how quickly they did it. I definitely give them a big thumbs up," said neighbor Krystal Kula, who also witnessed the fire.
There is no word yet on the exact cause of the fire. The American Red Cross is assisting the residents that were displaced.