Off-duty Westlake police officer saves elderly man from burning house

WESTLAKE, Ohio - A 76-year-old man is thankful to be alive after he was rescued from a house fire by an off-duty Westlake police officer.

The fire happened Monday morning just after 11 a.m. on Jan. 15 at a home near Detroit and Bassett roads.

The man, Don Barton, told News 5 he was house-sitting for a friend when decided to take a nap. 

He said he woke up to pounding on the door. "I got up, went to where the knocking was, it was smoky when I got through there...It was billowing smoke throughout the whole place," Barton said.

The man said he managed to get to the front door, where he was greeted by off-duty Westlake officer John Jereb, who helped him out of the house.

"He saved my life," Barton said.

According to the man, Officer Jereb ended up at the residence because he noticed smoke on his drive home, followed it and sprung into action.

"He coulda said 'oh I got to get home, or taken a different route,' and I wouldn't have been here talking to you then," Barton said

Barton told News 5 he thanked both the police and fire departments but after an angel knocked on the door till he answered, he just had to share the story.

"Its real encouraging to see that kind of help out there," Barton said. 

Westlake polices said Jereb is humble and declined to go on camera but the department is very thankful for him and his 24 years of service.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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