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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Fireman, Policeman Save Life And Home

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, April 24, 2006

Firefighters tackle a blaze at the 329 Stuart White Road, Cheshire, home of Marshall Harrington[All Photos by Sue Bush]
Cheshire - A volunteer firefighter who serves two community fire departments and a town police sergeant are being credited with saving a woman's life and a family's home as fire threatened both during an April 24 329 Stuart White Road mobile home blaze.

Flames and smoke were visible at about 1:07 p.m., when Savoy and Cheshire firefighter Corey McGrath drove by the property owned by Marshall Harrington.


Savoy and Cheshire volunteer firefighter Corey McGrath is credited with reporting the fire and rescuing a woman who was asleep inside the burning home. McGrath is holding his nine-month-old son Lucas.
McGrath immediately stopped his vehicle and reported the fire from the scene. He ran to an unlocked outside door and gained entry to an enclosed area that had been added on to the mobile home. McGrath tried to open another door that led to the home's interior but found it locked.

Concerned that someone might be inside the burning building, McGrath said that he used his shoulder to force the door open and began calling out.

"I kind of body-slammed the door to get it open and I started yelling," he said. "I couldn't make it too far in because of all the smoke."

McGrath heard a female voice responding to his calls; the woman, who is a friend of the Harrington family, had been asleep inside the mobile home, McGrath said. His loud cries woke her.

"I told her to get to the back door and get out," he said. "I told her I'd meet her there."

The woman navigated her way to the mobile home's back door and escaped the fire. She was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and was transported to the North Adams Regional Hospital by Adams Ambulance Service emergency medical personnel. Cheshire Emergency Medical Services personnel were at the scene as well.

The woman's identity is being witheld because of a personal situation. She was treated and released from the hospital.

As McGrath assisted the woman, town police Sgt. Robert Copeland, who was not on duty as a police officer when the fire was reported, arrived at the scene. Copeland found a garden hose and outside water spigot and began dousing the flames. Once the woman was safely out of the mobile home, McGrath assisted Copeland, Copeland said.

"I heard the call so I came up to see if there was something I could do," Copeland said. "It turned out there was. The way I see it, whatever you can do to help, that's what you do."

Cheshire police Sgt. Robert Copeland attacked the flames with a garden hose, and is credited with saving the home.


"You don't often save a mobile home," Copeland said. "Luckily, the garden hose was there. When Corey ventilated the windows, I was able to get to the inside [with the hose]."

Moments later, fire trucks and firefighters from the Cheshire, Savoy, and Adams fire departments arrived at the property.

Firefighters fought the blaze from the ground and from the building's roof. Damage included scorched walls, and smoke and water damage.

Members of the Lanesboro Volunteer Fire department traveled to the Cheshire fire house and provided standby manpower.

Copeland said that getting the woman out of the house quickly probably saved her life.

"That's the most important thing, that she got out. That's the most important thing."

Harrington arrived at his home soon after the flames were extinguished. He said that the woman is a friend of his family who is staying at the home.


Fire damage
He credited firefighters for saving the home and the woman and for keeping damages to a minimum.

"I feel good that the house was saved and [she] got out," Harrington said. "The fire departments did a good job."

Cheshire fire department Assistant Fire Chief Fran Gwozdz praised McGrath and Copeland for their quick thinking and work. The fire started at a wood-burning stove and quickly spread upwards along a wall, he said. The flames were brought under control within 5 to 10 minutes, Gwozdz said. Large fans were placed inside the home to evacuate smoke.

Cheshire fire department Capt. Michael Biagini offered praise to Copeland and McGrath. McGrath was able to alert firefighters to the precise situation, which proved beneficial, he said.

"He knew just what to do. He noticed the fire, he called it in and he was able to tell us what was going on and what was needed. We knew what to expect when we got here."

Cheshire Assistant Fire Chief Fran Gwozdz


Firefighters spent about an hour at the scene.

Savoy Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kevin Krutiak had verbal accolades for McGrath.

"He's a good firefighter for both [departments] and he did a good job here today."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.


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