By Brenda L. Holmes
Multiple fire departments responded to a residence fire in the early-morning hours on New Year’s Day and Plainfield Police officer Justin Walker helped lead one resident from the home, as well as the family dog.
The fire happened in the 600 block of South County Road 800 East in Avon. The homeowner called the Hendricks County 911 Center at 5:28 a.m. Tuesday and Walker arrived at 5:33 a.m., prior to fire officials.
When the first fire units arrived, they reported heavy smoke and flames through the roof.
“I was on my way to an off duty security job in Plainfield when I saw the smoke,” Walker said. “I was on Dan Jones (Road) and had just gone over the bridge that goes over CSX.”
He said the smoke was so bad you could not see to drive along Dan Jones Road. Walker stopped and saw a man outside the house.
“He said he was OK but that his wife was in the house and should be coming out the front door,” Walker said. “I tried to go to the only door I could see, but he said it was the wrong one. He pointed at a door you couldn’t see because of the smoke.”
Walker said he walked along the fence line until he found the front door of the home.
“I had a flash light with me, so I started yelling for her,” Walker said. “She couldn’t see me, but I could hear her yelling back. I’m sure she got tired of me yelling.”
Walker said he was able to locate the woman by using his voice and the flash light.
“I was able to hold her hand and lead her out,” he said. “Having the flashlight really helped a lot.”
Officials say both residents and Walker were checked by medical crews for smoke inhalation and were released without treatment.
Walker has been with the PPD for more than three years — first as a reserve officer and then as a full-time officer for the past two years.
The fire was reportedly under control just before 7 a.m. It entailed closing the road in the general vicinity of the house. Investigators have deemed the structure a total loss, with damage estimates between $120,000 and $150,000. The fire’s cause is still under investigation.
“I have never been on a fire scene that was that bad,” Walker said. “It was a very intense fire.”
Fire departments that responded were from Avon, Plainfield, and Danville.
Lt. Jill Lees, from the Plainfield Police Department, said officials at her department are very proud of Walker for what he was able to do.
“He was at the right place at the right time,” she said. “It just shows the caliber of men and women we have here. It’s obvious that we are never off duty. If we see something, even if it’s not in our town limits, we stop and help.”
Walker said he has great respect for firefighters and what they do — even more so now.
“It was a unique experience,” he said. “I have helped with a couple of fire scenes, but usually just securing the perimeter and assisting with traffic.”