Two Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputies on a call in North Naples found themselves in the right place at the right time when a fire broke out nearby Tuesday night.
Sgt. Patrick McManus and Cpl. Anna Marie DeRosa were investigating a report of a domestic disturbance at a residence in Naples Park around 11 p.m. when Cpl. DeRosa, who was outside, smelled smoke and saw flames coming from a dwelling two doors down.
Cpl. DeRosa said she ran toward the two-story multi-unit residence at 539 101st Ave. N., while notifying CCSO dispatch on her hand-held radio that the structure was fully engulfed.
“The front porch was on fire and I could hear something exploding coming from inside,” recalled Cpl. DeRosa.
She ran past the flames and made her way inside the smoke-filled residence where she located a man who had fallen trying to make his way out. She helped him up and ushered him to safety.
The man told her four other tenants were still inside, she said.
Cpl. DeRosa said she ran to the side of the house and started banging on windows and yelling for everyone to get out. She spotted an elderly woman in one of the units. She punched a hole in the screen door and got the woman out.
Two other tenants made it out safely on their own.
Cpl. DeRosa ran back and helped the last tenant make his way out through the smoke.
Meanwhile, Sgt. McManus, who had been inside the residence of the original call, ran from house to house evacuating residents and ushering them to safety while a series of what he called “mini explosions” rang out.
No injuries were reported in the fire, but the damage to the structure was so severe it required several fire units to extinguish the blaze.
An investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and CCSO detectives determined the cause of the fire was accidental.
Sgt. David Mendez, the field supervisor in charge Tuesday night, said Sgt. McManus and Cpl. DeRosa will be nominated for a CCSO award recognizing their brave actions.
“The valiant actions of Cpl. DeRosa and Sgt. McManus are admirable and noteworthy as their collective efforts likely resulted in the preservation of human life and other residential property,” said Sgt. Mendez.
Sgt. McManus brushed off the praise and cast a spotlight on Cpl. DeRosa.
“I’d say if there’s a real hero in this, it’s DeRosa. She made me proud,” he said.
Cpl. DeRosa said it was her first time responding to a fire.
“My adrenaline was going pretty hard,” she said.