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Family of Four Rescued from House Fire by Off-Duty Firefighter

Family of Four Rescued from House Fire by Off-Duty Firefighter

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The Providence Journal via YellowBrix

January 28, 2010

WARWICK, R.I. – - Four people sleeping inside their home escaped from their burning house on West Shore last night after an off-duty firefighter saw heavy smoke and alerted them.

But in addition to putting out the fire, which started in the attic and eventually caused heavy damage there, firefighters had to retrieve the owner of the house who went back into the home three times to try to put out the fire, according to the Fire Department.

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Firefighter Daniel DeRobbio, who was off duty, was driving by at around 11 p.m. when he noticed heavy smoke coming from the eaves of at house at 1816 West Shore Rd., according to Battalion Chief Arthur Silva of the Warwick Fire Department.

DeRobbio phoned in the fire and banged on the door until he awakened the residents. Two adults and their two children were able to get out safely, Silva said.

Then the owner of the home, Alex Sotski, did something Silva said a person should never do. He ran back into the house and upstairs to the second floor to try to put out the fire. DeRobbio ran in after him and escorted him back out.

When engine four arrived, Sotski was back inside, Silva said. Firefighters brought him out again. He then went back in one more time, Silva said.

“It is very rare without proper equipment and training that you are going to do anything but endanger your life,” Silva said. “People shouldn’t attempt to do this. The only thing that can happen is bad,” he said.

“It distracts us from doing what we are attempting to do because we know you are there and we have to concentrate on getting you out. Our efforts are better served on getting other occupants out rather that retrieving somebody we already got out,” Silva said.

Warwick Fire Marshal Mathew O’Donnell said that a preliminary investigation indicated the fire may have started in an exterior wall on the second floor. The attic was heavily damaged by the fire and the second floor was heavily damaged by heat, smoke and water, Silva said. The house was uninhabitable, he said. The Rhode Island Red Cross helped the family with living arrangements, Silva said.