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Officer rescues man from house fire

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A Columbus police officer used his firefighter training to help save a man trapped inside a burning home.

Edward Brune, 1036 Union St., is listed in stable condition at Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, recovering from what Columbus firefighters described as serious burns.

The fire at Brune’s home had not been detected until officer John Searle, patrolling on Union Street, saw smoke about 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The former German Township fire chief expected to see some brush being burned or other type of false alarm. But in a matter of moments he saw something different.

“I saw smoke coming from the eaves and the roof,” Searle said. “And I said to myself, ‘This is real.’”

After calling the fire department, Searle attempted to determine if anyone was inside the two-story, wood-frame home, which had been divided into apartments, said Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department.

Searle began by opening the door to a downstairs apartment.

“I could feel the heat and see the flames coming,” he said, deciding not to enter that way.

He soon was joined by Brad Eubanks, a Columbus man who knows Brune and had stopped by the house to check on him and another apartment occupant.

Searle said he was unsure whether the two knocking on a window caused it to break or whether the fire itself shattered the glass, allowing them to see Brune inside lifting an arm toward the rescuers.

Eubanks and Searle were able to get Brune out through the window and took him across the street to wait for an ambulance, Wilson said.

Eubanks suffered minor injuries and was treated at Columbus Regional Hospital, hospital officials said.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Searle, who was not injured. “I didn’t do anything different than anyone else would have done.”

Searle gave Eubanks credit, as he stepped up to help as a private citizen.

However, Wilson said Searle’s actions were heroic when taken in the context of the danger of the fire.

“What he did, it was that call to duty,” Wilson said. “It was remarkable.”

Columbus firefighters searched the apartments for additional victims and determined Brune had been the only occupant when the fire started, Wilson said.

The fire was under control in about 20 minutes.

Firefighters called Vectren Energy to disconnect power to the structure after a power line burned through and broke free. Columbus Utilities were also called to fix a damaged water line.

Fire investigators said a melted aluminum pan in the area of the kitchen stove is believed to be the cause of the fire.

Firefighters could not locate any working smoke alarms in Brune’s apartment, Wilson said.

The home, owned by Mary Boggs of Columbus, had about $50,000 in damage. It was valued at $100,000, Wilson said.

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