Off-Duty Police Dispatcher Saves Trapped People as Fire Engulfs New Jersey Home

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An off-duty police dispatcher rescued two people trapped in a basement bedroom after a fire broke out at a New Jersey home early Monday, authorities and witnesses say. Jen Maxfield has the story.

    An off-duty police dispatcher rescued two people trapped in a basement bedroom after a fire broke out at a New Jersey home early Monday, authorities and witnesses say. 

    Seven people were in the Carteret home on Capp Street when flames erupted around 5 a.m. Five of those people got out on their own, but two were trapped in the basement. 

    Eric Seniakevgch was leaving his girlfriend's house to go to work as a police dispatcher when he saw a column of smoke. He raced to the flaming home. Firefighters hadn't yet arrived, so he broke the basement window and saw a man and a woman lying face down as the room filled with smoke. 

    Seniakevgch says he yelled at the man and woman, who authorities say are in their 50s, to wake up. Then he lifted the woman to safety.

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    The hole he had made in the basement window was too small for Seniakevgch to pull out the man, so he grabbed a sledgehammer, made the hole wider, and managed to lift the man out as well.

    "It was an amazing feeling, like I was able to lift the world," Seniakevgch, who is also a volunteer firefighter, said. "It's what I do and what I was taught to do." 

    Carteret Fire Chief Mark Hruska said Seniakevgch saved the man and woman's lives. Neighbors say they were visiting the family that lived in the house.

    Seniakevgch and the man suffered cuts on their arms from the broken glass. Seniakevgch was bandaged up at the scene and the man and woman he rescued were taken to the hospital. No one else was hurt, and Seniakevgch only ended up being half an hour later for work. He said it's all in a day's work.

    The home was destroyed, and a nearby home had some siding damage. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. 

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