Fire victim credits Stoughton Police rescue - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Fire victim credits Stoughton Police rescue

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STOUGHTON (WKOW) -- One of the victims of a damaging fire in Stoughton credits police officers with making possible a roof top rescue, as smoke engulfed the burning building.

"It was quick,"   Andrew Martin says of the response by the officers to the apartments at 617 West Main Street on New Year's Day.

Martin tells 27 News a smoke alarm alerted his girlfriend to trouble in their second story unit mid-afternoon, but he discovered suffocating smoke when Martin opened the apartment door to try to leave.

Martin says they acted quickly, taking out a bedroom window screen and calling 911. 

"She kept asking us a bunch of different questions,"  he says.  "I'm not sure who's downstairs.  Upstairs, we're all out of the house, we're on the roof, we're trapped,"  Martin says.

Family members in a ground floor apartment had already gotten out. 

Stoughton Police Officer Bob Miller was one of four officers first to the scene, even before firefighters could get there.  He says had to make sure no one else was in the upstairs unit, so without breathing apparatus, he crawled on his stomach through the smoke and into the apartment.

"No training, but I remember as a kid about crawling when there's smoke inside a building,"  Miller says.  "Kind of reverting back to being a kid."

Officer Carson Hoeper followed Miller in.  "That's we signed up for,"  Hoeper says.  "I can speak for (all four officers)."

The two other officers located a ladder, and brought down Martin, his girlfriend and their roommate.

"We only have so much with us, most of which we carry on our body,"  Officer Kade Wilkinson says.   "So improvisation does happen."

"It could have gone badly,"  Officer Jessica Chesmore says.  "We couldn't really see much from the outside, as frantic as it was.  We moved as fast as we could, did what we had to do."

The fire caused $60,000 damage, and will keep Martin and other tenants out of their units for at least three months.

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