FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Standing inside a locked backyard with debris from a burning house falling around him was not how Fort Pierce Police trainee Patrick Seidel imagined his last day of training before becoming a police officer.
About 8:18 a.m. Tuesday, Seidel and his training Officer Jesse Streeter responded to a fire in the 600 block of South 11th Streets where flames were shooting from the roof and the house was full of smoke.
Homeowner Tom Adams, his wife Mary and their daughter Rebecca were preparing to take the dog to a veterinarian and then drive to Sanford for a niece's birthday party when the fire occurred. Rebecca grabbed the two cats and ran out the house.
Before rescue crews arrived, Tom Adams went to the roof to spray the flames with a fire extinguisher.
However, the fire quickly spread through the interior walls of the 75-year old, two-story, wood frame house near Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts. Dark, black smoke filled the home and backyard and fire separated Tom from his wife Mary Adams and their chocolate Labrador "Maddy," who were in the backyard.
"I couldn't get to her," he said.
Seidel, 27, was evacuating the remainder of the block when a St. Lucie County firefighter told him a woman was trapped in the backyard. Seidel climbed over the six-foot, concrete wall to rescue Mary and "Maddy."
While hearing the crackle and pop of the fire and flaming debris on the ground, Seidel use his baton to pry the padlock off the gate. When that didn't work, he scanned the backyard and spotted a ladder, which he set against the wall for Mary to climb over.
One problem: Mary refused to leave Maddy.
Seidel persuaded Mary to leave by volunteering to stay behind with the dog. After Mary climbed over the wall, firefighters came with bolt cutters and removed the padlock, freeing Seidel and Maddy.
Rebecca was treated and released from the hospital for smoke inhalation. No other injures were reported.
Fire damage was contained to a guest bedroom and on Wednesday contractors were on the scene removing burned debris.
Tom Adams chuckled after learning the rescued occurred on Seidel's last day of training.
"We're grateful for his help," Adams said. "I think he will do just fine."
After the rescue Seidel learned he passed field training and is officially Officer Seidel.
"We're impressed by how he handled himself. It's not every day that someone with training would face something like that," said Streeter, an 11-year veteran of the department.
Seidel, a graduate of Port St. Lucie High School, brushes off praise.
"I'm sure I was doing what another officer would have done in the same circumstance," he said.