Black smoke was pouring out of the upstairs rear of the building on Morton Street when firefighters arrived to the fire. Flames quickly erupted and devoured the south-facing windows and continued up to settle under the tin roof.
Soon, the fire was spreading across the entire roof and inching toward the west-facing side of the structure, which was built in 1950.
Malone Callfiremen and Bangor Fire Department volunteers on automatic mutual aid tapped into nearby hydrants to quell the fire. The aerial-ladder truck from Malone was brought over to fight the flames from a higher elevation.
Traffic was rerouted by Franklin County Fire Police, Village Police and State Police at Raymond Street to the east and Elm Street to the west, and backup security was called in on mutual aid from Clinton County Fire Police about 3:50 p.m.
Volunteers from Churubusco radioed that they were on their way to help.
Members of the Franklin County Cause and Origin Team were also called in from both ends of the county to determine the cause of the blaze.
Crews were still battling the flames at 5 p.m. as the stubborn fire kept moving through the building.
A cause of the blaze was not immediately known.
This was the second fire in that neighborhood in four months. An apartment house on the opposite corner from 3 Morton St., at 525 East Main St., was destroyed by fire on Oct. 26, leaving 12 people homeless.
That fire came four days after six people living at an apartment complex at 15 Jane St. were driven from their homes by fire on Oct. 22.
Though Preve and Hebert suffered smoke inhalation during the daring rescue, they remained on duty, thankful their fast action helped save a life.
For Preve, a near six-year veteran of the force, Tuesday’s rescue was a first in his career.
“Helping people is always the rewarding part of the job and keeping everyone safe, and this is why I signed on for this,” he said.
“We’re ready and willing to run into the burning building if it means saving someone’s life.”
Email Denise A. Raymo: email@example.com