Hero cop saves man from burning house

By abbey.hartevelt@dailypost.co.nz, Abigail Hartevelt

ROTORUA police officer Constable Colin Fraser risked his life to rescue a man from a burning house, but he does not think what he did was heroic.

"It's what we do. You get there and the guy was in trouble and you go and help him. Look at the rest of the police. You can pick out anyone out of the muster room and they'd have done the same thing," Mr Fraser said.

The 49-year-old father of two is today named The Daily Post Person of the Month for December for his bravery and quick thinking.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to a house on Pererika St about 4pm on Tuesday after reports there was a fire at the property.

Mr Fraser said emergency services were told by staff at the adjacent Ranolf Medical Centre that the one-bedroom unit was on fire and someone was inside.

The property is down a right-of-way so Rotorua firefighters were putting hoses over a fence behind the medical centre.

Mr Fraser ran down the property's driveway, looked through the ranch slider and could see a man standing by the kitchen sink.

He could see two gas cylinders on fire in the middle of the lounge, which is part of the same room as the kitchen.

The couch and some of the carpet were also on fire.

"The flames were getting as high as the ceiling," he said.

Mr Fraser said he did a quick sum-up of the situation.

"I knew I could get past the fire ... I ran through the ranch slider and grabbed him and dragged him to the door ... We both fell out of the door and landed on the ground. He was conscious [but] he couldn't help himself."

Mr Fraser's colleague, Constable Heidi Jessen, met them at the door and she and Mr Fraser carried the man, who is in his 60s, to the end of the driveway to a waiting ambulance.

"He was coughing and vomiting when we got to the ambulance."

The man was taken to hospital with a scrape on his arm and a superficial burn to his leg.

Mr Fraser escaped unscathed.

"I had to put on clean trousers because they got dirty," the constable said.

Mr Fraser, who joined the police in Rotorua in 2000, said what he did was part of the job.

"It's nothing different to what any other police officer would have done in Rotorua."

However, it was not until after a debrief with the Fire Service following the fire that he realised the risk he took was greater than he first thought.

As for being named The Daily Post Person of the Month, he said it was an honour.

"It's not something you expect especially when there are a lot of good people who do a lot of stuff that is similar," Mr Fraser said.

Police were still investigating the cause of the fire. Mr Fraser went to Rotorua Hospital but was unable to see the man he rescued but said he would like to meet him.

Inspector Ed van den Broek of the Rotorua police had nothing but praise for Mr Fraser, saying: "He showed extreme bravery in doing what he did.

"It's a reflection upon all police staff that we will place ourselves in positions of danger to help people who find themselves in these sorts of situations.

"He had to run right past the fire to get to the man. He did really well. His actions are to be applauded. He put himself in danger to rescue someone else."

The Daily Post Person of the Year 2012 will be named next week.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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