TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - As a fire ripped through an apartment on the top floor of Indiana State student housing Tuesday, several students have a group of police officers to thank for getting them out safely.
Normally when we see Indiana State Police Officer Sergeant Joe Watts, he is at the scene of an accident or a crime to explain to you and to us what is happening behind the crime tape.
But, Tuesday morning found him in a different role.
"I was on duty traveling southbound on 3rd street in the area of married student housing when a gentleman on the sidewalk flagged me over,” Watts explained.
“I stopped to see what he needed and he pointed out that hey there's smoke coming from that building there."
Sgt. Watts radioed dispatch to send for fire and rescue teams and then he and several of Terre Haute City Police Officers sprung into action, running to the 3rd floor.
"The smoke was so thick the visibility was very low that we ultimately had to come out after knocking on all the doors on the 3rd floor we couldn't handle the smoke any more," Watts said.
However, they didn't stop at the 3rd floor. As emergency crews got to the scene, Watts and the other officers continued to the 4th floor, where the fire had started; knocking on every door to be sure.
As the smoke billowed through the 4th floor, Watts and the officers turned to leave. By then the cavalry had already arrived.
"It was nice when we were in the building and we saw the fire fighters coming up the stairs and taking over for us,” Watts said.
“It was great. It was a great job to watch them work and I can't say enough about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of when the fire fighters come to help you."
Thanks to the efforts of police and fire, the students are safe and sound tonight, even if it's not in their home.
News 10 asked Sergeant Watts how he and the other officers felt running into the building. He said they didn't think twice, it's just how first responders are wired.
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