A trio of Michigan sheriff’s deputies has received high praise for their heroic rescue of a 74-year-old man who was on fire in the early hours of Wednesday. According to the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Deputies Zachary Deng, Jonathon Korte, and Thomas Bartoli responded to a fire call at approximately 1:24 a.m. on January 10, 2024. Macomb Township Fire and EMS were also dispatched to the home on Leanna Drive in Macomb Township.
Arriving as the first responder, Deputy Deng saw flames through the closed front door window and immediately rushed to enter the home. He discovered a man sitting in a chair, completely engulfed in flames. Recognizing the danger, Deng instructed a woman present in the house to leave immediately. Although Deng tried to smother the fire with a blanket, his efforts were unsuccessful.
Deputies Korte and Bartoli arrived at the scene shortly after, equipped with fire extinguishers. Together, they worked to put out the flames. However, due to the thick black smoke, Deputy Deng was forced to exit the home as it became difficult to breathe. Korte took over with another fire extinguisher and successfully extinguished the flames on the chair. Meanwhile, another deputy rescued the family dog from the house, and Bartoli used an extinguisher to put out the remaining flames.
Reports indicate that the fire started when the victim fell asleep while smoking, igniting a blanket. The injured man was promptly taken to a nearby hospital and is currently in stable condition. The woman present in the house was also hospitalized but has since been released.
Sheriff Anthony Wickersham commended the valiant efforts of the heroic deputies, stating, “I sincerely commend the valiant efforts of these Deputies in this life-threatening situation,” adding that their swift and selfless actions prevented an even greater tragedy from occurring.
In light of this incident, the U.S. Fire Administration advises smokers to take precautions to keep themselves and their families safe from fires. It is crucial to smoke outside, as cigarettes or ashes may inadvertently set something inside the home on fire. Properly extinguishing cigarettes every time is essential. Additionally, individuals taking medication that causes drowsiness are advised to refrain from smoking, and smoking in bed, where flammable materials like mattresses and bedding are present, should be strictly avoided.