NORWAY — Two police officers are being credited with saving lives, as well as a building, by pulling a burning mattress from the entrance to a boarding house in Norway late Saturday night.
Norway fire Chief Dennis Yates said the blaze is being investigated by the Maine Fire Marshal's Office as arson. The two police officers and one of the home's residents were taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Norway police officer Jim Vantresca and Paris police officer Nate Bowie were the first to arrive at 7 King St. in Norway about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
Yates said when the officers arrived, they extinguished the fire in a mattress they discovered burning in the middle of a downstairs hallway, but the fire rekindled as Bowie went to the second floor to look for residents believed to be trapped.
"We were the first two on scene, and people were yelling outside that there was a man trapped upstairs," Bowie said. "It's not hero stuff. It's just what we do. You see something happening, and you go in and take care of it."
Bowie said the mattress caught fire a second time while he was at the top of the stairs and he ran down to help Vantresca pull the flaming mattress, which was blocking the entrance, out of the building.
Yates credits the officers with stopping the fire from spreading to the rest of the structure.
"Truly, they put their lives in danger to save everybody else," Yates said. "It was very smoky conditions when I got there, and I was the first to arrive on scene after them."
Yates said six people live in the boarding house owned by Madeline Pratt. The building is comprised of small, one-room apartments that share a common bathroom and kitchen. He said the structure sustained some moderate damage as crews gained access to rooms in search of residents.
The two officers were treated at the hospital and released. An unnamed elderly man remains hospitalized, Yates said.
About 50 firefighters and emergency personnel from Norway, Paris, Oxford, Waterford, Poland and Pace Ambulance responded. Crews cleared the scene about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.