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Two police officers helped firefighters rescue an elderly blind man and his wife from their burning home yesterday after an unattended candle apparently ignited the blaze.
"We were coming down Delaware [Avenue] and saw all the smoke and saw her standing on the back porch," Officer Eugene Kutz said.
He and his partner, Rodney Clark, helped Florence Cheeves from her house, 2492 Scottwood Ave., and called 911. She told officers her husband was still inside.
Smoke was too thick for the pair, who'd been on routine patrol, to enter the home about 5:30 p.m. But they could hear John Cheeves, 85, calling out. "We took turns laying down on the porch and calling to him to come to our voices," Officer Kutz said.
Firefighters from nearby Station 17 on Central Avenue arrived minutes later and, with smoke gear, walked inside to find Mr. Cheeves about 10 feet from the back door. They led him to safety. Mr. Cheeves was taken to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition. Except for some smoke inhalation and soot covering his clothing, he appeared to be all right, Battalion Chief Bill Sulewski said.
Chief Sulewski said the fire was caused by a candle on the first floor. "I had a candle lit in the hallway," Mrs. Cheeves, 71, said. "It must have fallen down. I forgot about it."
No smoke detectors were in the house, Chief Sulewski said. The fire spread quickly because it started near a stairway to the second floor. Without smoke detectors, such a fire in the middle of the night could have had tragic consequences, he said. Damage to the building and its contents was estimated at $30,000, plus $5,000 to a carport and siding at the house next door at 2486 Scottwood.