Woman carried out of burning home by police officer

Smoke pours from the house at 255 Wentz St. as Tiffin Fire Rescue Division and Tiffin Police Department personnel work at the scene early Monday morning.

A woman was carried out of her burning home by a Tiffin Police Department officer early Monday morning.

Officer Justin Nowak had been at the police station when a resident of 255 Wentz St. called 911 about 2 a.m. The resident had told the dispatcher she wasn’t able to get out, he said.

Nowak was the first first-responder to arrive at the burning home.

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

Nowak went through the burning porch and in the front door. He located the woman 10 to 15 feet inside the home and learned she wasn’t able to get her wheelchair through the living room due to the home’s contents.

Nowak said he picked up the woman from her wheelchair and carried her out.

Lt. Jason Windsor, acting police chief, gave Nowak the department’s medal of valor at Tiffin City Council’s meeting Monday. Siding melted on Nowak, Windsor said.

Two dogs were rescued from the home by Tiffin Fire Rescue Division. One had been in the living room with the resident, and the other was in the basement, Nowak said.

“(Getting the dogs out) was her main concern,” he said.

Chief Kevin Veletean of Tiffin Fire Rescue Division said the cause of the fire was “careless smoking.”

He said a woman put a cigarette into an ashtray and fell asleep while smoking. It caught blankets and furnishings around her on fire, and dogs woke her up.

Veletean said two people live in the home, with one at home at the time of the fire and the other at work. The woman was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and declined to be transported, he said.

Veletean said smoke was coming from the front of the house and fire was inside the front room when the first crew arrived. He said it took about 15 minutes to extinguish the fire.

The chief estimated damage at about $45,000.

The living room – where the fire started – had fire and heat damage, the kitchen and hallway areas had heat and smoke damage, and the bedrooms had smoke damage, he said.

Veletean said the residents were displaced, and American Red Cross was contacted.

Detectors had been installed but didn’t operate, he said.

The owner of the property is Delbert R. Smith Sr., according to the Seneca County Auditor’s Office’s website.

An extra Tiffin Fire Rescue Division crew was called in.

Clinton Township Volunteer Fire Department had been summoned to assist. The crew was canceled before it got to the scene, according to Seneca County Sheriff’s Office.