Off-Duty Minn. Firefighter Helps Occupant from Burning House

Saint Paul firefighters responded to a house fire at 1031 Marshall Ave. on April 27 at 6:33 p.m. Firefighters arrived minutes later to find the two-story house with heavy smoke coming from the back and flames coming from the front of the house. The building was searched for victims and the fire was quickly extinguished. There were no injuries.

Just before firefighters arrived, off-duty Saint Paul firefighter Vernon Cobb, who was visiting his mother nearby, helped a 17-year-old girl off the roof of the rear porch. The girl had smelled smoke and opened a second floor bedroom door. Smoke rapidly filled the hallway, preventing her and her father from escaping down the stairs, so they went out a second floor window onto the porch roof. The father was able to get down from the porch roof, but the girl was not. Along came firefighter Cobb, who was assembling neighbors to catch her in the event that she jumped, when an unknown neighbor arrived with a ladder. They put the ladder up to the porch roof and coaxed her down. Thanks to Firefighter Cobb and the neighbors, she was not hurt.

Firefighters attacked the fire with multiple hose lines and cut a hole in the roof to ventilate the heat and smoke for firefighters inside. Although the fire was quickly extinguished, the damage to the home from heat, smoke, and water was significant. Damage was estimated to be $105,000 to the building and contents, and the home is uninhabitable. The cause of the fire was an overloaded electrical extension cord. Extension cords should only be used for temporary wiring and not as a replacement for permanent electrical outlets. It has not been determined whether smoke detectors were working. There was no fire sprinkler system.

"I am very proud of the actions of the neighbors and Firefighter Cobb at this incident. Their willingness to step forward in times of crisis is a value that the American fire service was built on, and this fire response shows those values are still alive today,” said Fire Chief Tim Butler. “I commend Firefighter Cobb and the Yang family's neighbors for their teamwork, leadership, and actions to rescue the residents from this building."