‘We saved a life:’ Video shows deputy running into burning home, pulling man from basement

UNION GROVE -- A Racine County deputy ran into a burning building -- rescuing a man from a basement. The home was a total loss, but all lives were saved.

It happened near 13th Avenue and High Street early Monday, March 18.

According to officials, a neighbor notified authorities shortly before 5 a.m. of flames coming from the windows of the home. The neighbor also indicated he didn't see anyone coming out. When crews arrived on scene, they began checking the residence. After knocking on the exterior doors and windows, a deputy found an unlocked sliding door, leading to the basement. He opened the door and smoke poured out. He yelled into the residence, but no one responded. While checking another door, the deputy observed a man exit the house through the sliding door. The man was identified as the homeowner, who stated his wife was still in the residence.

Fire near 13th Avenue and High Street in Union Grove

FOX6 News obtained video showing the inferno Deputy Eric Schneider ran into. He said he was simply doing his job.

Flames and overwhelming clouds of smoke consumed the home in Union Grove Monday morning. Body camera footage showed the fire's intensity, as flames burst through to the exterior. The homeowner ran out of the home, while Deputy Schneider ran in.

"In this particular case, we saved a life," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.

Fire near 13th Avenue and High Street in Union Grove

Sheriff Schmaling on Monday talked about the bravery of one of his own. He said Deputy Schneider learned someone might be trapped inside the burning home.

"As you can imagine, time is of the essence. It's smoke-filled. Visibility was bad. He was holding his breath," said Sheriff Schmaling.

Sheriff Schmaling said Deputy Schneider pulled an unresponsive man from the basement. The victim was barely breathing.

"He had to physically drag him out," said Sheriff Schmaling.

Fire near 13th Avenue and High Street in Union Grove

The home was a total loss.

"It will definitely be a change. I know a lot of work went into that house over the years. It's something that needed to get done and (Deputy Schneider) went above and beyond to do what he had to do," said Josh Flanders, neighbor.

The man pulled from the burning home was treated at a hospital and released. The homeowner refused medical attention. His wife was later found at another residence.

"This is part of his job, and that's what he told me. He goes, 'Well, Sheriff, that's just part of my job,'" said Sheriff Schmaling.

The Racine County Arson Task Force is investigating the cause of the fire.

Sheriff Schmaling said Deputy Schneider, who works third shift, would be recognized in front of his peers Monday night.

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