Anonymous donor gives wheelchair to woman whose home burned

Sgt. Jared Watson (from left), Officer Steve Beutler and Lt. Aaron Russell, acting chief of Tiffin Police Department, deliver an electric wheelchair to Janice Chinell at Days Inn on Wednesday afternoon.

A woman who was carried out of her burning home by a police officer was given a new wheelchair from a fellow Seneca County resident Wednesday afternoon.

Sgt. Jared Watson of Tiffin Police Department said it was donated to the police department by an anonymous donor.

Watson, Lt. Aaron Russell and Officer Steve Beutler delivered the electric wheelchair to Janice Chinell, who was displaced from her home at 255 Wentz St. due to the fire early Monday morning.

Russell, the police department’s acting chief Wednesday, recalled the donor saying she wanted to pay it forward.

“She’s been helped out with a lot of things throughout her life,” he said.

Chinell, who had lived in the Wentz Street home for at least 10 years, was awaiting the officers’ arrival at Days Inn Wednesday and sat outside her room in her fire-damaged wheelchair and wrapped in an American Red Cross blanket.

Barking from her dog, Patches, a Jack Russell mix, woke her up the morning of the fire.

Chinell said she had her blanket over head while sleeping and heard a sound.

“I looked down, and my blanket’s on fire,” she said.

Chinell said her oxygen hose was burning, and the entire room behind her was on fire by the time she got out. She said she couldn’t get over the door threshold.

“I called 911,” she said. She recalled telling the dispatcher, “I can’t get out.”

Officer Justin Nowak had been at the police station when 911 was called about 2 a.m. and was the first first-responder to arrive at the burning home.

“I could see her when I got to the front,” he had said.

Nowak went through the burning porch and in the front door. He picked Chinell up from her wheelchair and carried her out.

Nowak received the department’s medal of valor at Tiffin City Council’s meeting Monday.

Thank God, Chinell said, for Nowak and her dog, Patches.

“The heat was tremendous,” she said.

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