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Police: Officer saved New Freedom man from burning home

Liz Evans Scolforo, 505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

A longtime Southern Regional Police officer is being credited with saving the life of a New Freedom man unable to escape his burning home Sunday night.

Officer Michael Miller, who's been with the department for 16 years, got to the scene of the 108 N. Constitution Ave. house fire before firefighters, as did another Southern Regional officer, according to their chief.

Southern Regional Police Officer Michael Miller pulled a man from his burning, smoke-filled home on Dec. 4, 2016, police said.
(Photo courtesy of Southern PA Incident Network)

They'd been told someone was still inside the burning duplex, and one officer went to the front door while Miller went to the back door, Chief Jim Boddington said. Both yelled for anyone inside.

"Smoke was rolling out," the chief said, adding the man inside apparently was asleep on the couch when the fire started.

It was a neighbor who spotted the flames and called 911, according to Boddington.

Miller's yelling woke the late-middle-age man, and Miller instructed the man to crawl toward the sound of his voice, police said.

Overcome by smoke: The resident tried to do so, but he was overcome by the thick smoke inside his home, according to police.

Boddington said the man was likely disoriented — not only because he couldn't see through the thick smoke, but also because he likely inhaled that smoke.

"All it takes is a couple breaths of that toxic smoke to knock you out," Boddington said.

Southern Regional Police Officer Michael Miller
(Photo courtesy of Police Heritage Museum)

And that's a fact Miller knows very well.

For years, he volunteered with New Freedom's Rose Fire Co., the chief said, "so he knows how dangerous this is."

Miller then went inside the smoke-filled home, found the man and dragged him outside to safety, Boddington said.

The man, whose name was not released, was treated on scene for smoke inhalation, police said.

"(Miller is) certainly going to be recognized by the department," Boddington said. "We're quite proud of him."

Smoke, fire damage: Kurt Holloway, a firefighter with Rose Fire Co., said there was significant smoke damage and fire damage to the first floor of 108 N. Constitution Ave., with some extension to the second floor.

New Freedom firefighters battled a blaze at 108 N. Constitution Ave. on Dec. 4, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of Southern PA Incident Network)

The two people who live there, along with their dog, are now displaced, he said. The dog made it out safely before fire crews arrived, he said.

The family living at 106 N. Constitution Ave., which is the other half of the duplex, is temporarily displaced until smoke damage can be cleaned, Holloway said.

Holloway said the fire remains under investigation, but it's believed to be accidental in nature.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.