RICHMOND (WGME) – A Richmond man is in critical condition after he was found unconscious in a Christmas Day fire.
A police officer pulled him from his burning second story apartment.
As Wade Welner, 30, fights for his life in the hospital, his family is thanking the man who gave him a chance.
Christmas Eve was turning to Christmas Day and Richmond Police Officer Christopher Giles was the only one on duty when flames broke out at Welner’s Main Street apartment building. Officer Giles said “I was a mile down the road and I was already headed in that direction so it didn’t take me long to get there.”
Another resident told him Welner was trapped inside on the second floor. Unable to get in through the front, Giles ran to the back. “We weren’t able to get door open because there was a lot of stuff on other end leaning up against it, so we couldn’t get door in so ultimately I ended up breaking the door into pieces and pulling it down.”
He said a civilian riding along with him used a fire extinguisher to knock down some of the flames and then a sheriff’s deputy arrived and went inside with him to look for Welner.
“We attempted to make entry into the apt but we were overcome with smoke, so we got some fresh air, ran back in and located the man laying on the floor in the hallway.” added Officer Giles.
Welner was unconscious and not breathing very well.
Giles says the deputy drove the ambulance so an extra paramedic could work on Welner. Officer Giles stated “It was a team effort there were a lot of us involved.”
Giles says he just graduated from the police academy last week. Training that prepared him for high stress situations, but not necessarily this one. “I’ve got equipment to protect me from bullets, I don’t have equipment to protect me from fire.” said Officer Giles.
He’s happy he could give Welner a fighting chance and his family, some hope.
The Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office is still trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire.