GILFORD – A police officer saved the lives of two elderly people Sunday night when he broke down the door of their burning home on Old Lakeshore Road and carried them both to safety.
Patrol Officer Curtis Mailloux said he was in his cruiser about a mile or two away when he heard the call come for a building fire at 93 Old Lakeshore Road.
He said he was the first one there and saw heavy smoke pouring from the eaves of the one-story home and didn't see anybody standing outside.
Mailloux said he knocked on the front windows and the door but no one answered. When he looked in one of the windows he saw a man standing inside so he kicked in the front door and went to Jim Gray who was trying to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher.
The officer said yesterday he got Mr. Gray out of the house and put him in the front yard.
Mailloux said Mr. Gray told him his wife was in a different part of the house so he went back in and saw her standing behind a sliding glass door. He said he opened the slider and carried her through the front door as well.
"I'm just glad I was in the right place at the right time," Mailloux said.
Mailloux said he didn't do anything that any of his brother or sister police officers wouldn't have done.
"I just acted," he said.
When asked if he was feeling the effects of the smoke while he was in the house, he said that events happened so quickly that he didn't but said he was coughing when he brought Mrs. Gray outside.
All three were taken by ambulance from Gilford and Laconia to Lakes Region General Hospital for evaluation.
"It was a great feeling," he said, describing how he felt when he saw the elderly couple in the emergency room.
"It was a scary situation," he said noting that there was a quick response by the fire department and they were able to help Mr. and Mrs. Gray.
Fire Chief Stephen Carrier said the fire was likely caused by a wood stove that was too close to some beams.
"It was likely smoldering for some time," Carrier said.
He said the home had been enlarged several times and there were multiple roofs on it, making the fire difficult to extinguish. He said the living room was burned and there was smoke and water damage throughout the residence, but the home is repairable.
Carrier said firefighters who responded were already at another call and responded from there. He said with the roads being so slippery, it took about 10 minutes to arrive on the scene.
"I think they got there just about the time Curtis was bringing Mrs. Gray out of the house," he said.
Carrier said the home was equipped with working smoke detectors and the batteries had been replaced as part of the Gilford Fire Department's Senior Safety Day, which is when firefighters come free of charge to seniors' homes and change the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
One of Mr. Gray's sons was at the family business yesterday afternoon and said he was very grateful for Mailloux's quick thinking.
He said his father doesn't hear very well, and it was his mother who heard the smoke detector and woke up his Dad.
"I'm just very grateful," he said.
The Grays are staying with family members.