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Off-duty police officer credited with saving family from early morning house fire

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Posted at 1:31 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 13:33:51-05

NORTH READING, Mass. – An off-duty police officer in Massachusetts is being credited with saving three people from an early morning house fire on Tuesday.

The North Reading Police Department says Sgt. Thomas Encarnacao had just finished his shift and was on his way home when he noticed flames emerging from inside the home.

After alerting dispatch of the fire, Encarnacao entered the home to alert the residents. He was able to locate a man sleeping on a coach at the front of the house and helped him outside to safety, according to police.

The man told Encarnacao and other officers who had arrived to help that there were two more residents in the home, a 13-year-old boy sleeping in a back bedroom and a man in the basement of the home.

The man in the basement was able to get out on his own after officers alerted him, but police say first responders had to pull the boy out through a window of a smoke-filled room.

All three residents were evaluated by EMS at the scene and didn’t go to the hospital. No firefighters were injured. One officer suffered a cut to his hand while attempting to breach a basement window.

Firefighters were able to put the blaze out, but the house ended up sustaining smoke, fire and water damage. Police say the residents were displaced and are being assisted by family members.

The origin and cause of the fire is under investigation.

“The work of the three officers this morning was truly courageous, and I am incredibly proud of them,” said Police Chief Michael Murphy. “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.”