PORTAGE — Brave Nunda firefighters made a heroic rooftop rescue in the early hours of Friday, carrying two trapped women through thick clouds of seemingly impenetrable smoke and down a ladder and to safety.
Firefighters Travis Rawleigh and Travis Deiter, along with Chief Rob Walker, were some of the first firefighters on scene as smoke quickly engulfed the two story structure. They were only able to discover the pinned women because of their screams, as they could not be seen due to the conditions.
“The smoke was so thick we couldn’t even see them,” said Travis Rawleigh, First Assistant Chief with Nunda Fire Department. “When we climbed the ladder and got to the roof the elderly woman was scared and terrified, I had to carry her down the ladder as she fought me because she was panicking.”
Raleigh, along with Deiter, First Lieutenant, quickly scaled the ladder to the smoke-covered roof where the two men carried down the trapped women to safety as the home quickly became engulfed in flames. Another man was rescued from the lower level of the home, but the family suffered the lost of family pet cats and dogs.
Raleigh credited his fellow firefighters for the teamwork and hard training that helps to prepare them for this kind of situation.
“Without the guidance of Chief Rob Walker this rescue wouldn’t have been possible,” said Raleigh , who has been in the fire department for 19 years. “Tactically, he thinks outside the box. We are on a lot of calls together. We practice hard and it makes us work together. We just are very blessed to have each other.”
A major complication to the rescue was the climbing down a ladder carrying a panicking elderly woman, all while hauling over 70 pounds of gear.
“Once we rescued the occupants, then we had to fight the fire,” said Raleigh. “I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”