Fayetteville, N.C. — A police officer and a dispatcher were commended Friday for their quick actions, which likely saved the lives of a couple whose house was on fire.
Officer Scott Andreatta was on patrol at about 4:20 a.m. Friday when he smelled smoke in the area of Blanton Road, police said. He drove through the neighborhood and noticed a fire outside a residence.
Andreatta told dispatch to alert firefighters, and he ran to notify the homeowners. He rang the doorbell and banged on the door but got no response, so he began to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher from his cruiser, police said.
Dispatcher Malia Robinson obtained a phone number for the home and called, awakening Hoyt and Emily Randall. The couple, who are in their 80s, were able to get out of the house unharmed, police said.
Hoyt Randall even helped put out the fire by pulling the fuse to the home's air conditioning unit, which sparked the fire. Andreatta finished the job with a garden hose after using up his extinguisher.
"When I got that call that your house has a fire right in front of it, I got out of bed in a hurry," Randall said. "I tell you, it was pretty smoky and stinky around here."
The fire scorched boxwood bushes Randall planted around the house about 45 years ago, but the home escaped even minor damage.
Randall said he plans to write a letter to Andreatta to thank him for investigating the smoky smell and his efforts to put out the fire.
"A normal person would have thought Fort Bragg is burning underbrush again," he said. “He said, 'I decided to turn around,' and thank goodness he did, because if it would have got up (in the eaves), I would have lost a house.”
Andreatta couldn't be reached for comment Friday because he works the overnight shift.
"I want to be sure to commend that officer and give him an 'attaboy,'" Randall said.