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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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DV Pilot police & fire

Hero’s tale: Rescuing trapped woman from burning building

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT : Worried neighbors told Hillsdale Police Officers Brian McKeever and Officer Dave Sayers that a woman was trapped in a ranch house engulfed in flames. So the officers hit the floor and kept their ears open.

“I was screaming, ‘Is there anybody inside?’ ” said McKeever, who was wearing nothing more than his usual utility belt and flashlight when he and Sayers entered the Homestead Street ranch house just after 1:40 a.m. Friday.

The officers crawled through flames and smoke, bottles of household clearners exploding around them, until they eventually heard moaning from the living room.

“Basically there was heavy fire coming from the north side of the house, shooting up into the air a good 25 to 50 feet,” McKeever told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM.

A “misplaced burning cigarette” apparently ignited the fire, Hillsdale Police Chief Chip Stalter said.

Despite a series of minor explosions, McKeever and Sayers found 40-year-old Laura Begen inside the living room and carried her to a waiting ambulance.

Although neighbors said there were also four youngsters inside, it turned out they were staying with their father, McKeever told CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM.

” I got down to a crawl  along the first floor, shouting ‘Can anybody hear me?’,” said the 14-year department veteran, who grew up in Hoboken. “On the third try, we heard her.

“She was semi-responsive. We were able to drag her out the front door,” McKeever said. “She knew the house was on fire but wasn’t fully comprehending.”

The partners carried Begen outside the Homestead Street house to an arriving ambulance that whisked her to an area hospital with injuries that the police chief said don’t seem life-threatening. The officers were also treated for smoke inhalation as a precaution, but McKeever said they were fine.

PHOTO: Brett M. Dzadik (for CLIFFVIEWPILOT) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


McKeever delivered a baby in 2006, among other accomplishments in his distinguished career.

“David’s a newer officer. He’s got four years on,” he said. “This was the first fire he was in.”

“It goes with the job,” said McKeever, who has been designated for part-time duty with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. ” Once in awhile, you get the exciting calls. I’ve seen it all. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the other side of it.”

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