Monarch Fire Protection District Capt. Ed Fassler was stopping off to get groceries on his way into work early Sunday morning when a call flashed on his pager.
A fire had broken out at Chesterfield Place Apartments, not far from where Fassler was shopping, so he rushed to the complex. As soon as he arrived, he realized the flames consuming the rear of two apartments on the second and third floor posed a significant danger and called in assistance with a second alarm.
"He was the first firefighter to get there and the first one to start telling people to get out," said MFPD Fire Marshal Roger Herin.
Since the fire had started at around 6:25 a.m., many people were still asleep. Herin said Fessler was also aided by the resident who had spotted the fire.
"He called 911 immediately. A lot of times people try to fight it awhile before they call," Herin said.
According to Herin, the quick action by the two men was instrumental in ensuring that the fire which consumed two apartments and damaged 30 more didn't exact a personal toll as well.
Cause of Fire Still Uknown
The fire district is still investigating the cause of the blaze, but it appeared to have started out on the wooden decks of one of the apartments destroyed in the fire.
Herin said cigarette butts and embers from grills can often pose dangers on wooden structures. Although it's not known if either one was the cause of Sunday's fire, he used the occasion to caution Chesterfield citizens with wooden decks.
"We strongly discouraging people from barbequeing, especially with charcoal," he said. "The embers can fall out and you can't even know it."
Herin noted that there were many barbeque devices at the apartment, which he said the fire department "doesn't like to see."