‘Heroes’ go above and beyond in response to apartment fire

Christina M. Currie

An emergency situation is just the place for heroes to surface, which is exactly what happened Sept. 17 at a fire at Alpine Apartments that left one woman dead, the complex condemned and the residents of 27 units.

Craig Police Department Cpl. Dusty Schulze was awarded a Meritorious Commendation at Tuesday night’s Craig City Council meeting for his response to the fire and his attempts to save the one victim’s life.

“It’s one of the highest awards at the police department,” Police Chief Walt Vanatta said.

Vanatta read excerpts from a report filed by Officer Sue Burns, who responded to the fire and had the chance to observe Schulze’s response.

She said when she and another officer arrived at the apartments and started knocking on doors and contacting residents, Schulze went to the back of the building where the main part of the fire was located.

“Cpl. Schulze, risking personal injury, checked the apartments directly beneath the fire for occupants,” Burns’ report states. “Cpl. Schulze assisted both fire and ambulance crews in performing CPR on the victim and accompanied the victim to the hospital while continuing CPR. Cpl. Schulze did his best to help the victim survive, and when she didn’t, it affected him.”

Burns said the fire wasn’t the first time she’s seen his genuine concern for the public.

“In my opinion, Cpl. Schulze is not only a brave and caring police officer, but he is also a natural leader,” the report states.

Jim Diehl, owner of Carelli’s in Craig, was presented with a Citizen Commendation for his response to the same fire. Cpl. Schulze made the nomination.

“When I arrived on scene at the fire, I found Jim Diehl on scene,” Schulze said. “He ran to the complex and assisted me in evacuating the rear of the apartment complex.”

Diehl also went on his own to help evacuate people from apartments and had trouble with some who refused to leave.

“It’s not often we get to commend a citizen for actions taken during an emergency,” Vanatta said.

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