'Hero' police officer rescues Lyons fire victims

April 1, 2013 3:47:50 PM PDT
A police officer in southwest suburban Lyons is being called a hero Monday for rescuing residents from a burning building.

Lyons Police Officer Charles Wright, 55, was on patrol when he spotted an apartment on fire in the 4500-block of Prescott just after 12 a.m. After alerting the police and fire departments, he immediately went in and started helping residents escape.

Wright, who is described by his colleagues as humble, says he doesn't consider himself a hero.

"I'm not a hero. I'm a police officer and that's what we do for a living," said Wright. "I'm a first responder. We're on the scene first so it's our job to get those people out as fast as possible."

Wright did not hesitate to enter the smoke-filled building.

"I just went up the staircase, located the subject by feeling, grabbed him and got him out. It was a man and his child," said Wright.

The officer was overcome by smoke as the flames spread quickly, but authorities soon arrived to rescue more people. They shepherded the building's eleven residents outside to safety.

During the blaze, Mary Jones got trapped on the building's second floor and had to drop her toddler into the arms of other first responders waiting below. Firefighters then rescued her.

"There was smoke, and I knew that if I opened the door, the fire would have just been blazing. So, I just went back to the window," said Jones. "I just wanted to make sure she was okay."

Jones and her child both escaped without injury. In total, eleven people were rescued and are now displaced.

Wright, who needed oxygen, was recovering on Monday. He is being commended for his quick thinking.

"He's not self centered, he doesnt have an ego. Charlie's a hero everyday. He loves being a police," said Harley Schinker, Lyons Police Department.

"The best part about this is nobody got hurt, everybody got out safe. It was a happy ending," said Wright.

The fire appears to have started in the basement of the six-unit building. Officials are still investigating a cause.

One witness said there were functioning smoke detectors in the building that could be heard.