Two rookie Monroe Police officers are being lauded for saving the lives of a family trapped inside their burning home before dawn Tuesday.
Monroe Police officials say the fire call came in at 2 a.m. and Officer Corey Helms, 22, arrived at 1819 Lexington Avenue to see heavy smoke and a woman at the window of the second floor, officials said.
Charlotte TV station WSOC identified the woman seen in the window as Stephanie Munoz, and reported she was trapped in the home with her sister and three children, ages 5, 3 and 10-months.
She threw keys to the door down to Helms, who tried and failed to get in due to a wall of smoke. “I open up the door and smoke just starts billowing out,” Helms told the Observer’s news partner WBTV.
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A second officer, Dylan Cole, arrived shortly after and the two men made a second attempt to enter the home, where they found two trapped adults and three small children, officials said.
“The residents were instructed to stay low and each officer carried one of the small children down the stairs and out of the home,” said a statement from Monroe spokesman Peter Hovanec.
A firetruck arrived just as the group was exiting, and Emergency Medical Services staff treated the family for injuries associated with the smoke, officials said.
Munoz said the fire started in kitchen and it was burning right below their bedrooms. “My eyes were just burning. It was really hard to breathe,” Munoz told WSOC.
Helms and Cole have only been with the department since January, according to the Monroe Police Department Facebook page.
“I am extremely proud of the actions of these two officers,” said a statement from Monroe Police Chief Bryan Gilliard.
“Their decisions to put themselves in a dangerous situation to protect and save the people in that house truly exemplifies all that being a Police Officer stands for. These situations are not something you come across every day and I am proud that these officers used their training and skills to potentially save five lives.”
The cause of the fire appears to have been baby bottles left boiling on the stove, officials said. The extent of the damage is not known early Tuesday.