Rescue crews save woman from burning home

Posted Dec. 27, 2010, at 8:58 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Two firefighters, a police officer and a paramedic helped to get Soadia Gusha out of her burning home on Christmas Day, saving her from the flames that claimed the life of one of her tenants, Assistant Fire Chief Chris Dore said Monday.

Arthur Hatch, 64, died in the fire early Saturday morning at 403 Day Road, which was reported at around 5:30 a.m. The cause of the fatal fire is still under investigation, officials at the State Fire Marshal’s Office said Monday.

Brewer police Cpl. Nelson Feero was parked on the corner of Lambert and Day roads when he heard the call for help.

“I was just down the road,” he said Monday, adding he was at the burning house in seconds. “There was smoke coming from the front of the house and there was someone outside.”

The person standing outside told Feero that there were other people still inside the ranch-style house.

“I radioed to fire and let them know someone was still inside,” the officer said. “There was a lot of heavy smoke.”

When Brewer firefighters arrived minutes later, Feero directed them to a back bedroom on the far end of the building, which is where Gusha’s bedroom was located, Dore said.

“He could hear her yelling,” Dore said. “Brewer fire Lt. Mike Mullen went in through her window, grabbed her and pulled her back through the window.”

Firefighter Kevin Thibodeau, paramedic Ed Morsehead and Feero were outside Gusha’s window and helped to get the 51-year-old woman out of the burning building, Dore said.

“Her bedroom door was closed, but the fire was just starting to burn through the top of it,” he said. “We probably were a few minutes away from having a second victim.”

Gusha was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center to be treated for smoke inhalation and remained there Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. At noon Monday she was listed in fair condition.

Gusha’s sister, Noufissa Bernikhow, 41, and a second tenant, Yahya Daghmoumi, 38, also were treated for minor fire-related injuries at EMMC. A fifth person, who was not identified, was not injured.

Fire investigators say the fire started in Hatch’s bedroom and his body was found on the floor of that room, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. He said Monday that there was no new information to release.

Sgt. Tim York of the fire marshal’s office said Monday that the investigation into the cause continues and is pending an autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office, which was closed Monday because of the storm.

The last fatal fire in Brewer happened on Grove Street nearly a decade ago on March 2, 2001, when improperly discarded smoking materials caught a couch on fire and claimed the life of a 70-year-old woman, Dore said.

City Manager Steve Bost received an e-mail alert on his cell phone Saturday morning about the Day Road fire and immediately headed to the scene. He watched firefighters work to put out the blaze in the bitter cold. Bost called the firefighters, police and paramedics who pulled Gusha from her burning home heroes.

“This is the kind of heroism that our police and fire personnel are known for,” he said. “They all went beyond the call of duty. Our citizens are very fortunate to be served by these brave men and women.”

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