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(NECN: Greg Wayland, Arlington, Mass.) - The rear of a fine old house on tree-lined Webster Street, Arlington, Mass. is blackened by flames. That's our starting point for this story of a neighborhood, fire and police - and one police officer in particular - coming together for an emergency in a town where most of these rescuers have lived all their lives.
Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, John Flynn, neighbor to the house at 5759 Webster Street, and brother to an Arlington Police captain, smelled smoke.
"I turned to my left and the entire rear upper porch was engulfed in flames," he said.
Enter Arlington, Mass Police Officer Mike Hogan, riding his bike nearby.
"I was on Warren Street," he said, "and I looked up and saw all this smoke. Like, lots of smoke."
He rode his bike down to the burning house, saw neighbor John Flynn using a hammer to beat down the locked door of the house. Both men rushed in, found an 85-year-old woman on oxygen and her daughter inside, unaware of the fire racing toward them from the back of their house.
"I could see she was barefoot and there was glass all over the place, so I said, I don't want you cutting your feet so I'll just pick you up and we'll get out of here."
Everybody in the neighborhood saw him carrying this elderly woman with her oxygen tank safely out of the building. He then informed arriving firefighters of the dangerous supply of oxygen tanks still in the house, which they retrieved. Firefighters knocked down the blaze in a matter of minutes, winning praise from Officer Hogan.
Officer Hogan, who last year during a town outing saved someone's life by administering CPR, won praise from his boss, Chief Fred Ryan. The chief said Hogan is a known leader in the community - and that at the time of the fire he was on his bike training for his second participation in the annual Pan Mass Challenge cancer fundraising bikathon in August.
Unfortunately, Hogan could not spare the elderly fire victim and her daughter the trauma and difficulties they face of having their home severely damaged by the flames. Cause of the fire is under investigation. It is not considered to be suspicious, according to Arlington Deputy Fire Chief Gary Stratton.
As for his actions Tuesday, Officer Hogan said, "It's what you do. You help people When you're a cop or a firefighter, you help people."