Volunteer firefighter saves many lives in house fire
January 29, 2013
By Michele Mihalovich
A volunteer firefighter saved the life of a wheelchair-bound man and several dogs at a Jan. 25 fire where a North Bend home was destroyed.
Josie Williams, spokeswoman for Eastside Fire & Rescue, said a call came in about a structure fire at the 13600 block of 432nd Avenue Southeast at 9:13 p.m. that night.
Volunteer firefighter Kevin Nolet, 43, said his pager went off and he noticed the address was “very, very close to my house.”
He said he drove by the house and saw the flames and a young woman in her late teens or early 20s on her cell phone standing in the doorway.
Nolet said he got her out of the house and noticed a woman just inside the house and a man about 10 feet into the home.
“I took a step into the home and almost stepped on another man laying on the floor,” he said.
The man was disabled, and Nolet said he “scooped him up” and placed the man, who was wearing only a T-shirt and underwear, in a car to keep warm since it was about 30 to 35 degrees that night.
The other man went back into the home saying he had to get the dogs. Nolet said he managed to get him out of the house again, which at this time had flames moving from a back bedroom into the living room.
Nolet said he then saw the man walking toward the back of the house, and he followed him.
“I guess there were nine dogs and two cats that live at the house,” Nolet said.
When he got to the back of the house, he saw Snoqualmie firefighters, and one of them reported seeing a dog jumping up and down at the window.
Nolet grabbed the homeowner’s ladder that was close by and broke the bedroom window.
He said a Snoqualmie firefighter climbed the ladder and went into the bedroom “which was charged with smoke. He’d grab a dog, hand him to me and I’d hand it to a firefighter on the ground.”
All in all, four dogs were pulled from the smoky bedroom, but one of them didn’t survive.
“Seven of the dogs survived, one didn’t and one is unaccounted for. Both the cats got out of the house on their own,” said Nolet, who has been a volunteer firefighter on and off for about 20 years.
Nolet said people keep saying he’s a hero, but he thinks the granddaughter who was in the home at the time was the real hero.
“She had pulled him (the disabled man) off the bed or the couch, we’re not really sure which, and drug him to the door,” he said. “He was about 250 pounds, and she was maybe 120. She had no training and under those stressful conditions, she really impressed the heck out of me.”
Firefighters from Fall City and Snoqualmie assisted with the fire, which is believed to have started in the bedroom, Williams said.
Firefighters treated two patients with minor injuries and transported them to a local hospital for further evaluation.
The King County Fire Investigation Unit will investigate the cause of the fire, Williams said.