Wilmington police officer injured in fire searching for missing child

WILMINGTON - November 5, 2013

Corporal Steven Cancila and Officer Steven Bender were on patrol when shortly after 6:00 p.m. Tuesday they observed 1013 North Spruce Street engulfed in fire.

The officers contacted the Wilmington Fire Department.

Neighbors told the officers that an 11-year-old child was trapped on the second floor of the home.

Officers Cancila and Bender along with Senior Corporal William Draper and Officer Robert DiRocco entered the burning building to search for the child.

On the second floor of the building, the officers encountered heavy smoke conditions and they began crawling on the floor in an attempt to continue to search for the child.

"Once we got to the second floor, we were crawling around the different rooms looking for the child, but the smoke was so black we couldn't see two feet in front of us. The smoke got so bad we actually had to evacuate ourselves out," said Officer Bender.

While the officers were searching inside the home, the child was located outside, having safely exited the building when the fire began.

The officers exited the building as the Wilmington Fire Department arrived.

Officer Bender was transported to Wilmington Hospital by police vehicle where he was treated for smoke inhalation. He has since been released and says he is feeling much better.

Most of the roof was burned off at 1013 along with fire and smoke damage on the first and second floors. Homes at 1011 and 1015 sustained smoke damage.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Wilmington Fire Marshal's office. The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced families.

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