Gainesville firefighters, police rescue man trapped in house fire caused by candle

Photo provided by Gainesville Fire-Rescue.

Gainesville firefighters and police officers helped rescue a man who was trapped inside a burning building early Saturday morning.

Gainesville Fire-Rescue says the man was taken to a local hospital where he's expected to fully recover. Four police officers were also treated and released for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters responded to 1536 NW 3rd Ave. for a structure fire. While en route they learned a victim was trapped inside the house. Firefighters say Gainesville police Officer Katie Boyett was patrolling the area when she heard about the trapped man and responded to the fire. She located the victim in the back of the house and was able to direct firefighters to him when they arrived.

Firefighters say the structure is an older home that was converted into three apartments with a common attic. They say the man, the only person home at the time, was alerted to the fire by smoke detectors but was unable to escape because he couldn't find the key to the double-sided deadbolt on the door.

Gainesville Police say three more officers attempted to get in on the west side, kicking the door several times and attempting to dismantle it with a fire extinguisher. Two of the officers kicked in door panels to allow the man to get some air.

Boyett alerted firefighters Beachum and Lt. Thomas, who broke down the door and removed the man, who had collapsed by the door.

Investigator Kelly Derasmo determined the cause of a fire was a candle that was left unattended in the front side apartment when a resident left for the night. Firefighters say the contained most of the fire to that apartment. The two other apartments sustained heavy smoke and heat damage. Firefighters say the occupants will be displaced while repairs are made.

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