VINELAND, NJ - It was nothing short of a miracle that a 43-year-old man (who is legally blind, deaf and mute) escaped from an early-morning fire which destroyed his home.

Stations 1 and 6 were dispatched for a report of a dwelling fire, with a report of people trapped, at
517 Gilmore Street at 1:01 a.m. on May 29. While en route to Station 1, Captain Phil McMahon spotted the orange glow in the sky and called for Station 4 to provide a RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) assignment.

Captain Robert Scarpa arrived on Engine 61 and was confronted with a single-story, wood-frame dwelling heavily involved. It was his belief that no one still inside could have survived this fire and expected the worse. Fortunately, he was to later learn that the occupant had gotten out safely.

Captain Scarpa ordered a 2.5-inch line into service for the fire building, and two additional lines for the exposures on either side.

Engine 10 arrived on scene and laid a 5-inch supply line to Engine 61. Crews attacked the fire from the D side and placed a 1.75-inch line on the D exposure which was beginning to smoke. The fire burned intensely but was finally knocked down with the help of a 3-inch line to a blitz monitor.

By the time the fire was declared under control (
2 a.m.) the house had been gutted and the front wall was beginning to lean outward.

Reports were being received that the occupant had escaped the fire with the help of several neighbors who found him just inside the doorway and pulled him to safety. He was dazed but, amazingly, uninjured.

Firefighters responded with three engines, two ladders and a rescue; and operated four hose lines to battle the blaze. No injuries were reported.

Although the occupant will be staying with a relative, the Red Cross will provide him with food and clothing assistance.