Police officers in Clay, New York, kicked in the door to a burning building and braved the flames to alert residents of a fire on the afternoon of February 28.
State police and Onondaga County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call from a Grubhub driver who reported a fire at an apartment building at 4320 Arlington Circle.
According to Trooper John Moretti III, the driver was delivering food to a nearby Super 8 Motel when he looked over the fence and saw black smoke and glass breaking from windows at Breckenridge Apartments.
Police arrived to see plumes of black smoke and flames coming from the second and third floors.
The apartment complex doors were locked, forcing the responding officers to kick them in to gain entry. Once inside, they immediately began alerting residents to evacuate.
Trooper Ben Zaccagnino said that six deputies and troopers entered the building. He heard people coughing as they knocked on doors to order people to get out.
“I didn’t realize anything was going on until (a police officer) knocked on my door and said, ‘Everybody out,’” said a resident who lived on the side of the building opposite of the fire.
As Zaccagnino was about to exit the building, he noticed a bunny sitting in the doorway covered in soot. He managed to pick up the animal — a resident’s pet — and carry it out of the building.
Police say all residents exited safely.
The owner of the pet, 27-year-old Brandon Harrison, came after receiving a call from his landlord about the fire.
“I was worried about my bunny,” Harrison said. “I don’t care about anything else; not my shoes or clothes or anything except my bunny.”
Volunteer firefighters, an EMS crew, Onondaga fire investigation and the Red Cross arrived at the scene soon after.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within 20 minutes with minimal damage due to the apartment’s fire-resistant walls. However, there were a few tenants who couldn’t return to their apartments due to damage from the fire.
The Red Cross helped those displaced by the fire.
An investigation is ongoing as to the cause of the fire.