Tempe Police Department
October 9, 2012
A Tempe Police Officer on night patrol responded within minutes to a call for help, kicking in a door, and going not once, but twice into a smoke filled mobile home to rescue a 71 and 72 year old husband and wife.
At approximately 10:32 p.m. on October 7, 2012 Tempe Police Communications received a call for help. There was a fire at 2401 W. Southern Ave, #165. The desperate caller inside the home said they could not get out, could not open the door, and could not breathe.
Tempe Firefighters were on the way, but when Ofc. Paul Elenius, a five year police veteran, arrived at the home he found the door in flames. Neighbors had tried to break out the windows and a second door to get to the victims inside – with no success.
Ofc. Elenius went around to the back door, which was blocked with a table and other storage items, and kicked it down. Black smoke poured out, and screams were heard from inside. Ofc. Elenius forcibly shoved the items out of the way and went into the home, where he found a 71 year old female lying on the floor. He carried the victim to a safe distance, and went back inside the home to rescue her husband.
Firefighters from Tempe, Guadalupe and Phoenix all responded to suppress the fire, and to protect the other structures in the neighborhood. Fire medics treated and transported both victims to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, both remain hospitalized. Ofc. Elenius also was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation and released.
The cause of the fire appears to be accidental, but remains under investigation by Tempe Fire Department.
Ofc. Paul Elenius