Berlin police officer, neighbors praised for saving woman's life in house explosion

BERLIN - Flowers have been left for the victim of last week's home explosion.
BERLIN - Flowers have been left for the victim of last week's home explosion.

BERLIN — The Police and Fire/EMS Departments recognized a Berlin police officer and three residents Friday for their actions responding to a fatal April 14 house explosion on Pleasant Street, saying their actions helped save a life.

Officer Molly Plante and residents Brian Clemmer, Dylan Clemmer and Bobby Wheeler were praised for saving a victim trapped under debris.

"Without the actions of these individuals, there is no doubt in my mind that the outcome would not have been as positive for this trapped person," Fire/EMS Chief Michael McQuillen said in the statement.

The explosion at 71 Pleasant St. was reported about 3:30 a.m. April 14. Judith A. "Judy" Christensen, 79, was killed after her home was levelled. Her daughter was identified as the survivor of the explosion.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

According to a joint statement from the fire and police departments, Plante was the first official to arrive on scene.

Two neighbors, Brian and Dylan Clemmer, flagged Plante over to assist in lifting debris off a victim. Brian and Dylan Clemmer were trying to lift a piece of roof off a victim who was crying for help, according to the statement.

The neighbors were attempting to assist the victims while there was a heavy fire within feet of them. A second explosion also occurred, bringing heavy fire and a live electrical wire sparking under their feet.

After the Clemmers moved the debris and freed the daughter, Plante and Wheeler pulled her out and the group carried her over the live power lines, according to the joint statement.

Speed was of the essence, as the statement reports the fire became more intense. Plante put the daughter over her shoulder and carried her as fast as Plante could to her police cruiser.

Almost immediately after the victim was set down, another explosion engulfed the property in flames. Plante described the scene as "raining fire," according to the joint statement.

Berlin Fire/EMS rendered medical aid to the daughter, who sustained serious injuries.

Crews then focused on attempting to rescue Christensen. However, first responders were unable to do so due to the volume of fire and the building rapidly deteriorating from multiple explosions, according to the statement.

"Judy, a lifelong resident of Berlin, will be forever remembered for her smile and the laughter she spread," the statement read. "Our memories of her will never be forgotten and we will cherish the gratitude she had for our Public Safety Departments and the stories of the random acts of kindness she spread throughout the community."

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Berlin house explosion: Police officer, neighbors helped save life