NORTH READING — North Reading Fire Chief Don Stats and Police Chief Michael Murphy report that an off-duty North Reading Police sergeant assisted three residents to safety after alerting them to a fire at their home early on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
At approximately 1 a.m., North Reading Police received a 911 call reporting a porch fire on Lowell Road, near Walgreens, and North Reading firefighters were dispatched to the scene.
Sgt. Thomas Encarnacao had just finished his shift and was on his way home. He was driving down Lowell Road near the area of the fire when he noticed flames coming from the side of the house at 30 Lowell Road. He radioed to North Reading dispatch his location and informed them that there were flames coming from the home.
Sgt. Encarnacao made entry into the home to alert the residents. He was able to locate a man who was sleeping on a couch located at the front of the house, and helped him outside to safety.
Officers Nick Amirault and Sean Lawson also arrived on the scene to assist. The man told officers that there was another resident in the basement of the home. The officers were able to find a bulkhead door and make entry. The officers alerted the second resident but could not immediately locate him. The man eventually made his way upstairs and out the front door.
The North Reading Fire Department arrived when officers were bringing the second resident outside and found heavy fire on the left side of the house. Upon firefighters’ arrival, the two residents informed them that a 13-year-old boy was sleeping in the back bedroom of the home.
Police and fire personnel were able to remove a window screen in the bedroom and found the boy standing by the window in a smoke-filled room. Officers and firefighters pulled the boy out through the window to safety.
Firefighters assigned to Engine 3, including Capt. Eric Pepper and Firefighters Mike Tannian, Nick Carney and Adam Salemme, then worked to knock down the fire, preventing it from spreading further through the house and attic area.
The North Reading Fire Department was assisted on the scene by the Wilmington Fire Department. The Middleton Fire Department responded to provide station coverage.
The North Reading Police Department also assisted with traffic and closed the area of Lowell Road while crews worked. The road has since been reopened.
All three residents were evaluated by EMS at the scene, but refused transport to the hospital. No firefighters were injured. One officer suffered a cut to his hand while attempting to breach a basement window.
The scene was cleared at approximately 3:30 a.m.
The house sustained smoke, fire and water damage. The three residents were displaced and are being assisted by family members.
“The work of the three officers this morning was truly courageous, and I am incredibly proud of them,” Chief Murphy said. “Sgt. Encarnacao took decisive and immediate action, which very likely saved the lives of the residents inside the house. Once he got the first resident out, all three officers went back into the house, without protective gear, to look for additional residents. Their actions to get all of the residents out safely was truly heroic.”
“We are proud to work closely with the North Reading Police Department, and this is an example of how our departments work together to serve our community and save lives,” Chief Stats said. “We are thankful that Sgt. Encarnacao was in the right place at the right time, and was able to use those extra minutes that he was on the scene to alert the residents and assist in getting them out. Just a few minutes can make the difference in a fire, and I have no doubt that his efforts were lifesaving.”
This fire was the third one in the last month that North Reading Police and Fire have responded to. The tragic loss of life was averted in all three for different reasons, but functioning smoke alarms were a common theme in each case. The North Reading Fire Department would like to remind residents of the critical importance of ensuring smoke alarms are working, and always investigating when they sound unexpectedly.
The origin and cause of the fire is under investigation by the North Reading Fire and Police departments and the office of the State Fire Marshal.
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