When Zach McArthur spotted a plume of black smoke billowing from a home in Cheshire on Tuesday, instinct and training took over.
McArthur, off-duty Stamford firefighter, pulled over on I-84 and ran toward the house at 104 Hickory Lane. The side of the two-story house was engulfed in flames and the fire had worked its way up to the roof.
McArthur called 911 and then handed off his phone to onlookers so they could stay connected with 911 operators. Without any equipment, he kicked in the front door and conducted a room-to-room search for trapped victims.
While searching the first floor, he came upon a family dog and carried it outside.
“When I found the dog, it was shaking and partially hidden by heavy, toxic smoke that filled the room from the floor to the ceiling," he said. "The homeowners have four children, all under the age of 16, and they were ecstatic that the their beloved family pet survived despite the damage to their home.”
McArthur ran back in and searched for other potentially trapped victims, but no one was home at the time. The family's pet cat was later found deceased, according to an article by the New Haven Register.
“Firefighter McArthur’s instincts, training, courage and selflessness all kicked in. He ran into a burning building in plain clothes for a family he didn’t know, putting himself in grave danger,” said Stamford Fire Captain Matthew Palmer. “We are proud to have Zach as one of us.”
McArthur has worked with the Stamford Fire Department for four years and is currently based out of Rescue 1, Engine 5.
Cheshire Fire Chief Jack Casner told Register reporter Luther Turmelle that the fire appears to have started on a front deck, but the official cause had not yet been determined.