‘Thank God he saw the smoke’ - Hero police officer saves 2 families from burning home

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A hero police officer saved two families from their burning home in Ridgefield this past Saturday.

Fire officials say that the two-alarm fire started around 10 a.m. inside of the home. Sgt. Edward Schaefer was on duty at the time and when he came outside to answer the call, he saw that Hillside Street was covered in smoke.

Schaefer has been on the Ridgefield police force for almost 20 years and has been a volunteer firefighter for 30 years.

“The instinct just kicks in and you just go, ‘Don’t worry about yourself, help others,’” Schaefer says.

Schaefer ran into the house without any protective gear and lead two families to safety, including Martha Vielman and two of her children. He even doubled back to make sure that everyone was out safely.

“Thank God he saw the smoke … He saved our lives. That's why we're here, because he was on time,” Vielman says.

Schaefer’s fellow offices went into the house to find him once they arrived on the scene.

"Whether it be a resident who's living in the house or your sergeant who's coughing on the radio, you just act before you think,” says Officer Andrew Farelli.

Schaefer says that he was relieved when he saw his backup.

“I’m glad that my brothers in blue had my back,” he says.

Schaefer was taken to a local hospital, treated for smoke inhalation and released the same day. Vielman says that she is so grateful for his efforts.

“He’s totally a hero,” she says.

Friday will be Schaefer's first day at work since the fire. He says that he is ready to get back out there and help people. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help those displaced by the fire.

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