FOND DU LAC -- Officers from the Fond du Lac Police Department coached a 22-year-old woman to jump from the window of a second-story home that was on fire early Monday morning, June 11th. Seconds after the woman jumped, police say there was an explosion.
The incident occurred on Amory Street in Fond du Lac.
Two police officers were able to break the woman's fall. She was taken to the hospital for injuries she suffered following the jump, including a broken leg.
A second resident of the home managed to get out safely.
“This morning’s fire certainly could have had a much different outcome if the woman had not jumped to safety,” Fond du Lac Fire Chief Peter O’Leary said.
Seconds after the woman jumped from the second floor, a rush of oxygen in the burning home caused an explosion, resulting in broken windows and a sparking electrical cable.
"It's violent -- there's no doubt about it. I want people to understand the explosion is part of the phenomenon of a backdraft," Chief O'Leary said.
Officials say the fire damaged the home, an adjacent automobile and caused minor damage to nearby houses.
Neighbor William Bump's home was filling with smoke as a result of the fire, and he said he noticed the woman on the second floor next door, unable to climb down the only exit -- a staircase that was in flames.
"When I looked, she was screaming to get out of the house, and two of the officers went over to the house and they told her to jump because she couldn't get out the original door," Bump said.
Chief O'Leary said the fire started in a storage area outside the home, where old mattresses and a gas lawnmower were kept. He credits the police officers for saving the woman's life.
"They knew that seconds were ticking by, and they convinced her to jump. They broke her fall. Although she did sustain injuries to her lower extremities, certainly the outcome would have been much different if she had not jumped. She probably would have succumbed to the smoke inhalation and be consumed by the fire," Chief O'Leary said.