NEW BEDFORD — A New Bedford firefighter was injured Monday morning and an elderly woman was saved but badly injured in a fire at an apartment that did not have any working smoke alarms.

These and other details are emerging one day after the blaze in which three people were rescued from a Tremont Street apartment that caught fire at around 7 a.m. Monday.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger said in a release that the elderly woman, who uses a wheelchair, was badly injured in the blaze.

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Dangerous Rescue in Extreme Heat

According to a social media post from the New Bedford Fire Department, Lt. Steven Torres shielded the woman with his body and protective gear (shown in the photo above) while she was carried down the stairs in high heat and "extreme fire" conditions.

A post from Firematic Supply Company detailing the damage to the lieutenant's gear stated that the firefighter suffered burns to his neck.

Officials stated in a release that a firefighter sustained minor injuries in the incident, but did not identify the person.

The woman was treated at the scene and stabilized at St. Luke's Hospital before being taken to Rhode Island Hospital Trauma Center, the department stated. Her current condition is unknown.

Two other people, an elderly man and a younger man, were also rescued in the fire.

What Happened?

District Chief Scott Gomes was first at the scene and confirmed that three tenants were trapped in a third floor apartment, before rescuing the elderly man via the back staircase, according to the department's post.

The other man was rescued from a front window with a ladder truck.

Fire crews extinguished the blaze within around 30 minutes, the fire chief said.

Officials said the cause of the fire does not appear suspicious, but the incident remains under investigation.

Monday's fire was the second in three days in which New Bedford firefighters conducted ladder rescues, after two people were rescued in a fire on Saturday at a Madeira Avenue home.

That fire is thought to have been caused by smoking materials, but the smoke alarms alerted the residents, who climbed through a window onto a roof before being rescued.

Smoke Alarms and Fire Safety

Both Kruger and Ostroskey stressed the importance of having working smoke alarms in every home.

"Investigators believe the fire began in a third-floor bedroom, and we found no working smoke alarms in that unit," Kruger noted.

"I want to remind everyone in the community how important it is to have working smoke alarms on every level of every home. Please check your smoke alarms today to be sure they’re working properly."

"While the cause of this fire is still under investigation, we know that working smoke alarms and a practiced home escape plan are crucial to surviving a fire," said Ostroskey.

"Smoke alarms alert you to the danger and an escape plan helps you and your loved ones get to safety. Be sure your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old, and be sure your escape plan accounts for any children, seniors, and people with disabilities in your household."

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