Chief shares account of heroic house fire rescue

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CLEVELAND --  A Cleveland woman is being treated for burns at MetroHealth Medical Center after a fire swept through her home Sunday afternoon. Now, the fire chief who rescued her is speaking out.

Cleveland Fire Department Battalion Chief William Gorey was driving through a neighborhood on Cleveland's east side, just finishing up from another call, when he saw smoke.

"So I pulled over and realized it was a house fire," Gorey told Fox 8.

Crews were called out to East 116th Street, however, Gorey was by himself and knew other firefighters wouldn't be on scene for another three to four minutes.

"A lady ran up to me and said my sister is inside the house. Help her. Please get in there and save her," he said.

Gorey told Fox 8 he knew that he was risking his life by running into a burning home without any backup, "I thought for a second about my wife and four kids. I looked at this family and said I've got to act on this. This is what we've been trained to do. So I went in through the back door."

According to Gorey, once he was inside the house the flames were spreading around him.

"The heat had me crawling on my belly to get to that room. It was so involved," he explained.

Two more firefighters arrived and helped Gorey pull an unconscious woman out of a bathroom and into an ambulance, where she was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment.  The victim was reportedly in critical condition.

Gorey said he severely burned his hand during the rescue; he received second degree burns and blisters.

"As I was leaving the hospital her family was there and it was very emotional," Gorey said, "They were hugging me and telling me I'm a hero and I said 'this is just the job we've been trained to do'."

Gorey, who said he was just doing his job on this Labor Day weekend, was looking forward to seeing his family.

"Be safe. Hug your loved ones. You never know when an accident, or tragedy, or something that could change your life happens," Gorey said.

Officials said the fire started in a bedroom, however the cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Continuing coverage.

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