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    Post Winter Haven Fla--3 Rescued from Fire

    Published Tuesday, March 29, 2005
    WINTER HAVEN

    Three Rescued From House Fire

    City firefighters rescued three people from a burning house at 918 Ave. S S.E. early Sunday morning. Another man was able to get out of the house on his own.

    Two of those rescued were airlifted, one to Tampa General Hospital and the other to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. The patient taken to LRMC was later transferred to Tampa General, said fire Lt. Shannon Duncan.

    The third person was taken by ambulance to Winter Haven Hospital.

    Duncan would not identify the injured people because their identity is protected by law.

    The one-story, concrete block house, owned by Kris M. Bender, according to Polk County property records, was destroyed in the fire that occurred about 1:50 a.m., according to Winter Haven fire officials.

    Two vehicles were also destroyed by the fire.

    The cause of the fire is still being investigated by the Polk County Fire Department and the state fire marshal, Duncan said.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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    Two Men Help in Rescuing People From Burning House

    By Joy Townsend
    The Ledger

    WINTER HAVEN
    It doesn't happen often, but firefighters are trained to enter burning homes to rescue people. Blaine Taylor and Chris Drayton have no such training. That didn't stop Taylor, 33, from trying to help four people trapped in their burning home about 1:50 a.m. Sunday.

    The situation had a happy ending because everyone, with a little help from passers-by, worked together, said Lt. Brian Crisci of the Winter Haven Fire Department.

    "We're just doing our job," Crisci said. "For him (Taylor) to just be driving by and to act like he did, those are the people who really act above and beyond what is required."

    When Crisci and another firefighter arrived at the scene, Taylor, who was driving on Cypress Gardens Boulevard and saw the smoke, and Drayton, a nearby resident, had already helped one of the home's occupants out of the house.

    "I heard somebody banging on the window. He couldn't get out," Taylor said.

    Taylor knocked out the window, cutting his hand but enabling him and Drayton to pull Rick Bender from the burning home.

    "When we pulled him out and he hit the ground, I thought he was dead. He said his wife and parents were still in there," Taylor said.

    Then Drayton, 38, and Taylor helped another resident -Bender's wife, Kris -- out of the home.

    "She was the only one we could get out," Drayton said. "There was too much smoke inside. The firefighters got the others out."

    About six minutes after the initial call went out, Crisci and a firefighter driver were the first to arrive at the home at 918 Ave. S S.E., which is owned by Kris and Rick Bender.

    The Bender home is one house outside the city limits of Winter Haven, but a mutual aid pact with Polk County calls for the nearest station to respond.

    Crisci and the other firefighters who responded Sunday are assigned to the city's Cypress Gardens, Fire Station No. 3.

    Crisci entered the burning home to look for Rick Bender's parents, Richard Sr. and Ruth Bender, who is disabled.

    "They all saved our lives," Kris Bender, 43, said of those involved in the rescue. "We would have died without them. We couldn't even dial 911. Our phone was out."

    Rick Bender, 47, a Church of God bishop who operates the Seed Sowers, a food program for the needy, is thankful he had a smoke detector.

    "If it wasn't for our smoke detector, we would have slept through it," Bender said. "It looks worse than I imagined."

    Entering the Bender's flamefilled home was a first for Crisci, who's been a firefighter for 12 years. Additional firefighters arrived about 90 seconds later.

    "Brian took a huge risk," Duncan said. "You can't put into words what he did."

    The fire had an undetermined source, said Detective Fred Clarke of the State Fire Marshal's office in Tampa.

    "There's too much damage," he said. "I wasn't able to determine the initial ignition source."

    In the past five years, Winter Haven firefighters have responded to three fire calls in which people were trapped inside the burning building. All six of those people were rescued, Duncan said.

    "The Fire Department was awesome," said Terry English, a neighbor who watched the rescue. "They knew exactly what to do. They were incredible."

    Everyone working the fire played an integral part in bringing about a successful ending, said firefighter Sonny Emery.

    "We train for this. We go through scenarios like this," he said. "It's like a chain. If one link is missing, it doesn't work."

    In all, four firefighters went into the burning house.

    "I was just whipped," said Matt Zahara, a firefighter. "That's the first time I've had to go into a burning building for a rescue. You might go your whole career without making a rescue where there's entrapment."

    When an ambulance was blocked at the end of the dead-end street, emergency medical technicians had to push Richard Bender Sr., 82, who was on a stretcher, about four blocks to Southeast Plaza. He was flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital where he remained hospitalized Tuesday, Rick Bender said.

    Ruth Bender, 77, was still a patient at Lakeland Regional Medical Center on Tuesday.

    Joy Townsend can be reached at joy.townsend@theledger.com or 863-401-6970.

    WINTER HAVEN

    It doesn't happen often, but firefighters are trained to enter burning homes to rescue people. Blaine Taylor and Chris Drayton have no such training. That didn't stop Taylor, 33, from trying to help four people trapped in their burning home about 1:50 a.m. Sunday.

    The situation had a happy ending because everyone, with a little help from passers-by, worked together, said Lt. Brian Crisci of the Winter Haven Fire Department.

    "We're just doing our job," Crisci said. "For him (Taylor) to just be driving by and to act like he did, those are the people who really act above and beyond what is required."

    When Crisci and another firefighter arrived at the scene, Taylor, who was driving on Cypress Gardens Boulevard and saw the smoke, and Drayton, a nearby resident, had already helped one of the home's occupants out of the house.

    "I heard somebody banging on the window. He couldn't get out," Taylor said.

    Taylor knocked out the window, cutting his hand but enabling him and Drayton to pull Rick Bender from the burning home.

    "When we pulled him out and he hit the ground, I thought he was dead. He said his wife and parents were still in there," Taylor said.

    Then Drayton, 38, and Taylor helped another resident -Bender's wife, Kris -- out of the home.

    "She was the only one we could get out," Drayton said. "There was too much smoke inside. The firefighters got the others out."

    About six minutes after the initial call went out, Crisci and a firefighter driver were the first to arrive at the home at 918 Ave. S S.E., which is owned by Kris and Rick Bender.

    The Bender home is one house outside the city limits of Winter Haven, but a mutual aid pact with Polk County calls for the nearest station to respond.

    Crisci and the other firefighters who responded Sunday are assigned to the city's Cypress Gardens, Fire Station No. 3.

    Crisci entered the burning home to look for Rick Bender's parents, Richard Sr. and Ruth Bender, who is disabled.

    "They all saved our lives," Kris Bender, 43, said of those involved in the rescue. "We would have died without them. We couldn't even dial 911. Our phone was out."

    Rick Bender, 47, a Church of God bishop who operates the Seed Sowers, a food program for the needy, is thankful he had a smoke detector.

    "If it wasn't for our smoke detector, we would have slept through it," Bender said. "It looks worse than I imagined."

    Entering the Bender's flamefilled home was a first for Crisci, who's been a firefighter for 12 years. Additional firefighters arrived about 90 seconds later.

    "Brian took a huge risk," Duncan said. "You can't put into words what he did."

    The fire had an undetermined source, said Detective Fred Clarke of the State Fire Marshal's office in Tampa.

    "There's too much damage," he said. "I wasn't able to determine the initial ignition source."

    In the past five years, Winter Haven firefighters have responded to three fire calls in which people were trapped inside the burning building. All six of those people were rescued, Duncan said.

    "The Fire Department was awesome," said Terry English, a neighbor who watched the rescue. "They knew exactly what to do. They were incredible."

    Everyone working the fire played an integral part in bringing about a successful ending, said firefighter Sonny Emery.

    "We train for this. We go through scenarios like this," he said. "It's like a chain. If one link is missing, it doesn't work."

    In all, four firefighters went into the burning house.

    "I was just whipped," said Matt Zahara, a firefighter. "That's the first time I've had to go into a burning building for a rescue. You might go your whole career without making a rescue where there's entrapment."

    When an ambulance was blocked at the end of the dead-end street, emergency medical technicians had to push Richard Bender Sr., 82, who was on a stretcher, about four blocks to Southeast Plaza. He was flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital where he remained hospitalized Tuesday, Rick Bender said.

    Ruth Bender, 77, was still a patient at Lakeland Regional Medical Center on Tuesday.

    Joy Townsend can be reached at joy.townsend@theledger.com or 863-401-6970.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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