Deputies hailed as heroes for saving family from fire

Updated: Monday, February 25 2013, 07:34 PM EST
Deputies hailed as heroes for saving family from fire  story image
CUTLERVILLE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Six Kent County Sheriff's deputies are being called heroes after rescuing a mom and her three kids from a burning building.

The fire broke out around 1 a.m. Monday at Woodfield Apartments in Cutlerville. Newschannel 3 obtained the audio recording of 9-1-1 calls.

"I was about to cook on the stove, and I turned on the stove and I went to the bathroom, and when I came back there was a fire," a woman told Kent County dispatch on the phone. "I think it was a grease fire because I was about to make chicken."

The woman said she tried to spray it out with water from the sink and it just got bigger. The dispatcher explained one should not use water on a grease fire.

In the meantime, another 9-1-1 call came in from a mom trapped in her apartment with three kids. This apartment was next door to the one where the fire started. She was clearly distraught.

"Stay calm for your kids. Stay strong for them, okay?" the dispatcher told her.

Deputy Ed Kolakowski is among the six deputies to first arrive.

He says the smoke was so thick, you could hardly see. He and his colleagues had to belly crawl through the apartment building indoor hallway because the smoke was hardly a foot from the ground, he says, giving them little air to breathe.

The team was only armed with an axe, which they used to break windows to help smoke escape, and a few blankets.

"We were able to make our way to the back bedroom. We could hear a child back there so we broke into that door. That family was out on a balcony," Kolakowski said. "So I grabbed one girl by the one hand, and the other boy by the other hand, and I wrapped the blankets around them. We told them before we wrapped it around them that we're going to run and we were eventually able to get to the first floor."

Deputy Kevin Daley led the older of the three kids out safely, said Kolakowski.

"The three kids were the biggest little heroes," said Kolakowski.

Cutlerville Fire and Kentwood PD also responded to the fire.

You can watch the full video of Newschannel 3's interview with Deputy Kolakowski by clicking here. Deputies hailed as heroes for saving family from fire
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