Fresno police officers rescue man in wheelchair from burning home

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three Fresno police officers, armed with ambition, rushed into a home they could hardly breathe in to save a man confined to a wheelchair trapped inside. It happened early Monday morning near Lexington and Hagler avenues in Northwest Fresno.

The fire started early in the morning in the main living room of the house and began to spread before an explosion awoke one of the people inside. She frantically rushed to wake everyone up, but Fresno police officers had to save the final fire victim who couldn't get out alone. Firefighters say Lyle Jones was inhaling smoke for several minutes before the three officers were able to drag him to safety.

Fresno police officers saw the huge column of smoke Monday morning from a distance and followed it to a residential area near Woodward Park. The first officers who pulled up knew the situation was serious.

"We heard a female voice saying that there was somebody trapped inside toward the back of the house, near the backyard," said Diana Trueba of the Fresno Police Department.

Officers knew time was running out. The fire was already advanced, and there was no time to wait for firefighters.

"By the time I got here, my partners had already walked in here into the patio, and we walked right here, behind this was a sliding glass door. Officer Cowart pulled out his baton, and he used his baton to break the window," said Trueba.

Officers shouted and shouted until they heard the victim, but they could barely tolerate the overwhelming smoke that was getting worse by the second.

"We just knew we were going to need some air, and we knew we didn't have the equipment to go in, but we knew we had seconds to get him out," said Trueba.

Three officers pulled the victim out, and firefighters said what they did singlehandedly saved at least one life.

"But because they did, those people are alive today," said Battalion Chief Tony Escobedo of the Fresno Fire Department.

The officers and four others in the house -- including two children -- were also treated for smoke inhalation. They are expected to be OK.

Jones is expected to survive but will spend the next few days in the hospital. He was last listed in fair condition.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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