OCONTO FALLS - What could have potentially been a deadly fire in Oconto Falls was snuffed out quickly Saturday, all thanks to a police officer who noticed something peculiar while making his rounds.
Oconto Falls Police Officer Joseph Ruiz says his usual patrol took an unusual turn.
"I was patrolling the area on Union Avenue, coming this way, and I saw the flames coming out of the house, so I pulled over right away and I called it into dispatch. I knew there was someone in the house. So I went around the house knocking on windows until the homeowner came out of the house," said Ruiz.
The man told Ruiz that his son, Jackson Humphreys, was still sleeping upstairs.
"By this time a deputy was on scene, also, and we both ran upstairs where heavy smoke was in the house and we assisted Jackson out of the house," said Ruiz.
Humphreys' father grabbed this garden hose to put out the fire.
It had started on the back of the home when an unattended tiki torch tipped over.
The Oconto Falls fire chief says the blaze was nearly out by the time his crews arrived.
"Basically, all we had to do was do some minor extinguishment," said Chief Tim Magnin.
Now first responders are heralding Ruiz's quick thinking.
"He just took action on his own and basically took things into his own hands and acted very, very quick," said Magnin.
When asked if he thinks he could have woken up if Ruiz hadn't knocked, Humphreys said no.
"We're heavy sleepers," he said.
Some are calling Officer Ruiz a hero for going into this house during the fire. But he says he was doing what he's been trained to.
"I'm also a volunteer firefighter," said Ruiz, who lives outside of Shawano. "I honestly don't consider myself a hero. It's what I do and I just reacted to what I saw and the safety of the people inside the house was my first concern.
And to the man who helped saved his life, Humphreys has something to say.
"Thank you very much for helping us and getting us out," said Humphreys.
Fire crews say while this situation had the best possible outcome, it serves as a reminder to extinguish candles, tiki torches, and campfires before turning in for the night.
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