GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — The Garfield Heights Fire Department is crediting a city police officer with saving the life of a woman in a burning home.
The officer was patrolling in the 4700 block of East 84th Street around 2:30 a.m. when he reported the house fire and requested a fire department response, according to GHFD.
Officer Michael Malak drove around until he found the source. Patrolman Malak quickly realized that anyone inside the smoke-filled duplex was in jeopardy, and immediately tried to alert the residents. On video from his police body camera, Malak is heard knocking on doors, and shouting, “Police department, police, anybody in here? Police! Anybody in the house?”
Initially, there was no response, but the video shows Patrolman Malak working his way around the duplex and continuing to call out to anyone who may be inside, as the fire continued to spread and smoke billowed from windows.
A woman, who was awakened by the alarm raised by Officer Malak and a second officer, was able to get out of the downstairs unit in the burning duplex.
She told the officers that there may be people trapped upstairs, which prompted Patrolman Malak to continue his rescue efforts.
Authorities eventually learned that the upstairs residents were not at home.
Garfield Heights Fire Chief Kenneth Strope said Officer Malak made all the difference.
“This saved her life,” Strope said.
“Routine patrol we call it, but it’s never routine,” Garfield Heights Police Chief Mark Kaye told FOX 8, “He just had his eyes and ears open in the middle of the night, right? That’s what we like our guys to do, whether they’re looking for crime, a fire in this case, he spotted it, he alerted everybody else. On a nightly basis, it doesn’t surprise me one bit honestly that they did this, or that they went to these lengths to help people because they do it every day.”
Chief Kaye now plans to nominate Officer Malak for one of the city’s top awards for saving a life.
Unfortunately, as many as seven dogs, including a litter of puppies, perished in the blaze, but one dog found in the basement of the duplex survived.