Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Quick action and a heroic undertaking by a Jacksonville Police officer saved two people's lives Saturday evening when a vicious fire engulfed their home.
Two Jacksonville residents were asleep in their home on the corner of Waters and Rusk streets when a fire broke out in a front room around 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Jacksonville fire crews responded to the scene, along with police Officer James Lozano. Lozano, who is also a certified firefighter, was not the first police officer on the scene, but he was the first who spoke Spanish and could interpret the cries of bystanders screaming there were people inside the burning structure. Lozano prevented another man from entering the building to try to help, directing the Good Samaritan to safety first.
Lozano then entered the home by a side door, said Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White, and crawled down a hallway to find one resident asleep in his bedroom. The first resident indicated someone else might still be in the house and Lozano crawled to another bedroom to wake the other resident.
"The three of them crawled back down the hallway trying to get out the way he'd come in but the fire had progressed too far," Chief White said. "It had spread too fast."
Lozano ended up bringing the two residents out through a window.
"There's a fair chance they would not have survived if he hadn't gone in like that," Chief White said.
There were no injuries in Saturday's blaze, which Jacksonville firefighters had under control in about 15 minutes.
The accidental fire started in an electrical outlet in the front room of the house, according to White.
"Other policemen might not have done what he did," Chief White said.
Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel concurred.
“I am in the process of documenting the incident and waiting for a formal nomination from his sergeant for a police award," Chief Daniel said Monday. "Because we do not bestow medals lightly it takes some time to document and justify the award. If the documentation is solid enough I am proposing the Police Medal of Valor for his actions. This is the highest honor a police officer can receive and is given in instances where an officer goes above and beyond the call of duty by endangering his own life to save the life of another. It certainly appears that Officer Lozano’s actions meet or exceed these criteria."