May 30, 2023

DECATUR — A 70-year-old man was rescued from a north side house that was on fire late Saturday night, after someone called 911 in a timely fashion and firefighters arrived within minutes.

At 11:51 p.m. Saturday firefighters were sent to the 1100 block of East Mueller Avenue.

“The call came in that they thought somebody was in the house,” said Battalion Chief Todd McKenzie of the Decatur Fire Department.

Four minutes later, an engine from Station 1 arrived with four firefighters.

When they arrived, they saw some flames in the house through a window.

Two firefighters entered the house, while one carried a hose.

“The house was pretty smoky,” McKenzie said.

They found the man inside the house. There were no other occupants.

“He was unresponsive when they got him out, but he came around when they got him out,” McKenzie said.

An ambulance arrived and took him to Decatur Memorial Hospital.

McKenzie said it was fortunate that there were four firefighters on the first engine. More often, there are three on each rig.

Having that extra firefighter on the scene could make a difference. That allows two to search and rescue while one brings up a line and the driver operates the engine.

“You almost double your ability to work with one extra guy,” McKenzie said.

“It just so happened there weren’t many guys off during that shift. That was the only reason.”

There was another rig right behind the engine, the tower truck, which also had a crew of four. Within 30 or 40 seconds, engines also arrived from fire stations 4 and 5. There were 14 firefighters and five pieces of equipment on the scene.

“They got the fire knocked down pretty quick,” McKenzie said. “That is an area located central to several stations.”

The cause of the fire is unknown. It remains under investigation.

The damage is estimated at $22,000.

This is the kind of call that firefighters remember for a long time.

“There’s nothing better than making a difference for someone like that,” McKenzie said. “It’s a great thing that he’s going to see another Christmas.”

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