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Meet Cops Who Saved Elderly Woman From Burning Home

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PHILADELPHIA -

Despite all the nasty headlines, there are still some heroes out there, folks who put their lives on the line to save others.

Remember this huge fire in South Philadelphia a week ago? The flames gutted four homes and damaged several others.

But no one died, and that's because of the quick work of a pair of Philadelphia police officers.

FOX 29's Bruce Gordon met those hero-cops Friday.

Officers Bryan Sullivan and Dan Pignataro were on routine traffic duty around dusk last Friday night when they saw smoke billowing from the 3200 block of Chaucer Street.

Firefighters hadn't even been called yet as they headed for the danger.

Cellphone video captured the out-of-control fire.

As Pignataro arrived on the scene, neighbors shouted that an elderly woman who lived alone at 3239 Chaucer was still inside.

Pignataro raced to the front door and spoke through the wrought iron frame and glass: "I said, 'Your house is on fire. You have to come out.' She said, 'It's not a fire.' I could look behind her, to the rear of the house, and I could see the smoke."

The woman, clearly frightened and confused, would not come out, and police could not get in.

By now, Sullivan had joined Pignataro at the French doors a few feet away.

Sullivan said, "Dan breaks it down, and then, once Dan breaks it down, you could see that, you know, he's a little injured.  So I believe, if I recall, that I just kicked it in. I'm a soccer player, so I just kick things."

"What goes through your mind as you're doing that?" Gordon asked.

"It doesn't. Nothing. Just get her out. That's it," Sullivan said.

Joined by a police lieutenant and a couple of civilians, Sullivan again argued with the women, who insisted there was no fire.

Finally, Sullivan said, "I grab her from the front and kind of make our way, slowly, inch-by-inch, with all the debris. And we kind of stumble a little bit, fall a little bit, but we get up and get out."

A week later, neighbors are still assessing the damage and marveling at the heroism of the men who saved the woman's life.

Mike Koplove, whose home was damaged in the blaze, said, "You know, it's crazy how fast the fire went up. It gives you a perspective. It shows you how real it is, the danger that they put themselves in – and the firemen – every single day."

"You don't sign up for jobs like the police department, fire department, paramedics, to not want to help people," Sullivan said.

Pignataro said, "It's got to be done, so you know, why am I going to worry too much about it, you know what I mean? You have to do what you have to do."

The rescued woman, whose home was among those gutted by the fire, was known on the block as Angie. She was first reported to be 89 years old but may in fact be 103!

A neighbor tells us she is fine and is now living with a grandson in the New York City area, Gordon reported.

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