'Hero' Retired Wash. Firefighter Saves Disabled Woman, Pets From House Fire

CLE ELUM, Wash. --


A retired volunteer firefighter in Cle Elum is being called a hero after he rescued a disabled woman from her burning home and helped pull several of her family's dogs to safety.

The firefighter -- who is himself disabled -- was able to carry the 22-year-old woman and several family pets to safety.

Mike White is both a neighbor and a 25-year volunteer firefighter with Kittitas Fire District 7 who's retired on disability. He was first at the scene and entered the burning home. When no one responded to his shouts, he retreated from the flames.

"They hollered, saying the girl was in the house, so I went back in," White told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

The "girl," 22-year-old Chelsea, is developmentally disabled. She was the only one home at the time. She managed to shut the door of her room until White could lead her to safety.

"She's always been taught that you touch the door (and) don't open the door if it's hot. Stay low below the smoke," said Bobbi MacInnes, Chelsea's mother.

On the way out, Chelsea and White were able to rescue several of the family dogs, but a 6-week-old puppy was presumed lost in the fire.

The next day, firefighter Ben Borgman found the puppy cowering under a bed, suffering from smoke inhalation, but alive. He nursed him back to health.

"I feel pretty good. It gives me a smile every time I think about it," Borgman said.

Investigators believe the fire started from a short in a wire leading from the stove. The house is insured, but the family lost everything except an heirloom cabinet and the clothes on their backs.

Still, thanks to Mike White, they didn't lose what was most precious to them: Chelsea.

"There's a sticker on the foot of her bed that says "faith". And it just sums it up for all of us," said Ron Stiffler, a fire victim.

"I'm thankful," MacInnes said. "I'm so thankful."

Chelsea is unhurt and is staying with her grandparents in Yakima while the family works on re-building the home.

As for the puppy, he's been named "Lucky."


Copyright 2010 by KIROTV.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.