Woman reunited with officers, firefighters who rescued her from burning home

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A chance meeting reunited a Maplewood woman with the first responders who rescued her from her burning home several months ago.

Maplewood police officers Rob Smith and James DeFazio, along with firefighters Connor Hamilton and Capt. Christopher Ariemma rescued Arlene Knight and her 17-year-old blind and autistic son from their Normal Place apartment on Sept. 11, 2018.

“Life is funny and things happen so quickly. They saved my life, I can't explain it,” says Knight.

Several months later, on Dec. 31, Knight, who is now staying with her daughter in nearby Irvington, saw a Maplewood fire truck passing by and flagged it down so that she could generally thank them for their service. One of the firefighters on the truck that day was Hamilton.

"She said ‘You guys saved me from my house in September.’ And I'm like ‘Oh my Gosh, I was there,’” Hamilton says.

Hugs and kisses were exchanged and photos were taken to celebrate Knight’s rescue.

“I am so grateful,” she says. “I see life differently. I feel great about it.”

The first responders say that getting thanks and seeing a person’s gratitude makes the job worth it.

“Just knowing that we can help somebody and save somebody. That's why we do it. It's why the police department does it,” says Ariemma.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials say that it was likely an accidental electrical fire. Four families, including the Knights, were displaced by the fire.

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