Police officers credited with saving lives by evacuating residents as Auburn Street fire quickly spread

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VIDEO: Above, scenes from a fire that tore through a three-story apartment building on Auburn Street.

Footage by Jeffrey Hastings, Frame of Mind Photo.


MANCHESTER, NH – As you all know we had a building fire on Auburn Street early this morning. It was a three-story apartment building, heavily burning. I wanted to give you more information about how it played out and let you know that one of our sergeants played a very big role in helping residents get out safely.

Sergeant Michael Lavallee was on routine patrol and noticed the fire first. He alerted dispatch and immediately went into the building to try to evacuate residents.

Flames were coming out of windows on the third floor (rear of the building) and the fire was working its way down the building to the second floor. Since the third floor appeared to be the area with the most active fire, Sgt. Lavallee started there. He was unable to make contact with anyone in that apartment and moved to the second floor. He was soon joined by Officers Justin Gaudreault, Patrick Colburn and Lt. Robert Bellenoit. Residents were awoken and evacuated through a door on the Auburn Street side. The rear stairwell was already impassable as it was engulfed in flames.

Sgt. Mike LaVallee, who was honored as 2018 Officer of the Year.  File Photo/Andrew Sylvia

The third-floor tenant was later found to be safe; unbeknownst to officers, the individual had already gotten out of the building on their own.

Other officers arrived and evacuated neighboring buildings and the fire department arrived and cleared 255 Auburn St. No one remained inside.

It is our belief that Sgt. Lavallee’s actions saved lives. If he hadn’t spotted the fire and if he and the other responding officers hadn’t woken up residents and evacuated the apartments, there likely could have been loss of life.