Schenectady officers rescue four from house fire

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A group of quick thinking police officers is being credited with saving four people from a burning home in Schenectady.

The incident started around 4:30 p.m. Friday when Schenectady police received a call for a domestic dispute at 21 Yale St.

“Several more calls were received prior to the officers’ arrival,” Sgt. Matthew Dearing with Schenectady PD said. “Possible smoke coming from the building, and the first responding officers did notate that smoke was coming from that address.”

One of the first responders was Schenectady Police Det. Kevin Derkowski. He said when he arrived on scene, he saw smoke coming from the second floor apartment with neighbors screaming someone was trapped inside. That’s when he and five other officers rushed inside.

“There was some sort of altercation going on,” Derkowski said. “So we run up the stairs, basically had to force our entry into the residence.”

Derkowski then said he witnessed what he called an obvious domestic dispute between 36-year-old Rogers Jackson and his girlfriend, 26-year-old Angelica Williams. Derkowski said Williams and her one-year-old baby were screaming for help.

“Myself along with the rest of the officers on scene were able to get her out of there and take the subject into custody,” Derkowski said.

Police said an altercation ensued with Jackson, but an officer helped get Jackson out of the house and subdue him. Police are looking into Jackson as a person of interest in starting the fire.

Six officers were treated at Ellis Hospital for smoke inhalation, and a seventh was treated for a minor wrist injury. Tenants were also sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation. They were later released.

The homeowner, 70-year-old Elaine James, also made it out safely.

Derkowski, however, doesn’t think he should be hailed as a hero for his actions in the incident.

“We were just doing our job,” he said. “Something that any of us that work here would do, especially when you hear a woman crying for help.”

Jackson is still at Ellis Hospital under police surveillance. No charges have been filed against him, but the investigation is ongoing.

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