Right place, right time: Bay County officer rescues couple from house fire

Published: Jan. 3, 2018 at 5:54 PM EST
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(1/3/2018) - A deputy's sense of smell led him to a Bay County house fire early Wedneday, from which he rescued two people who were sleeping inside.

The Auburn Williams Township fire chief said the deputy's actions most likely saved two lives.

The fire was discovered a little after 3 a.m. when Bay County Sheriff's Deputy Art Kleinert was patrolling Auburn and smelled some smoke.

"More like a trash smell or plastic in the air, so it caught my attention that it wasn't normal," he said.

Kleinert routinely patrols Auburn and started following the smell.

"I started to see some smoke," he said.

Kleinert eventually found flames coming from a house in the area of Shady Lane. He got out of his car and jumped a fence to get to the home.

"I pounded on the door trying to wake up anyone inside, tried looking in the windows, and not getting any answers," Kleinert said.

He eventually kicked in the door.

"After I kicked in the door, I think they were sleeping," Kleinert said. "It probably woke them up, either me knocking on the door or me actually kicking in the door, and then they yelled they were in there."

A 45-year-old man and a 25-year-old female got out of the house with just the clothes they had on. A smoke alarm in the house went off just as Kleinert broke the door down.

"The house was filing up with smoke and was filled with smoke," he said. "I was coughing all day just trying to get it out of my lungs."

Fire Chief John Martinski said the couple inside could have been overcome by smoke inhalation if not for Kleinert's efforts to get them out.

"Working out in Auburn you can have a whole week worth of nothing, and you just happen to get a house burning down at three in the morning," Kleinert said. "I was just at the right place at the right time, I guess."

Fire investigators are still trying to determine was sparked the blaze.

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