Upper Merion Township first responders hailed as heroes for saving residents in apartment fire

UPPER MERION TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Several first responders in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania are being hailed as heroes for helping rescue residents as a massive fire engulfed an apartment complex on Wednesday night.

The fire broke out around 10:20 p.m. at the Kingswood Apartments located along the 200 block of Byron Place.

"We went in and we started checking, calling out to people and hopefully they heard our voice," said Sgt. David Gershanic.

Gershanic and seven others officers were first to respond. Without hesitation, and knowing they might be hurt or worse, some ran in to clear each unit.

Officer Nick Vuotto said, "There were occasions where we did have doors that were locked and we did have to go through the doors to clear the apartments to make sure no one was in them."

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Chopper 6 was over a massive apartment fire in Upper Merion Township.

Officer Susan Bednar ran to the back. She got critical help to a man trapped on a third-floor balcony.

"I was looking up at him trying to calm him down, telling him we're getting the fire company and ladders to get him down," said Bednar.

Not far behind were members of the Upper Merion Township Fire and EMS.

Firefighter William Helenski got the ladder.

"I helped guide a fellow down the ladder off the balcony," said Helenski.

Steven Devenney with EMS also ran inside.

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11 people, including five police officers, were injured in a fire in Upper Merion Township.

"We were kicking doors in and telling people. 'get out, there's a fire!'" he said.

It's hard to really account for just how many residents they saved Wednesday night. But if you ask any of them, even after risking their own lives, they'll say it's just part of the job.

"I don't view any of us as a hero. It's kind of what we signed up for and I'm just happy we all made it out safe," said Officer Evan Meoli.

In total, 14 people were hurt including five officers who are already back on the job.

Everyone who sustained an injury is expected to make a full recovery.
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