Columbia police officer saves two familes from fire

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Police officers take a vow to serve and protect, and that’s exactly what one Lancaster County police officer did when he noticed people were in danger.

When on patrol, Columbia Police Officer Austin Miller’s senses are always alert for trouble. Around 11 p.m. Tuesday, it was his nose that noticed something wasn’t right.

“I detected a large, odorous smoke, which was coming into my patrol vehicle,” Miller said. “It seemed just a little bit more than a fireplace.”

He got out of his car to investigate, and it didn’t take long to find the source.

“About halfway down the block, I saw two males, and one of them yelled, ‘Fire!’ So I ran down and started entering the houses,” Miller said.

At 631 Manor Street, he got five people out of the house, including a baby.

“I have kids at home, and I would hope that someone would alert me if my house was on fire,” he said.

Then when Officer Miller noticed the flames headed to the house next door, he was able to push in the door and get the neighbors out safely.

In all, Officer Miller helped seven people, none of whom realized there was a fire burning. But the 11-year veteran remains humble. He said anyone who puts on a police uniform would’ve reacted the same way.

“It does feel good,” Miller said. “All of us do it everyday, it’s just, not everyone gets recognized for it. But it’s the same stuff everybody does everyday.”

The Red Cross is helping the families who are out of their homes. A state fire marshal ruled the cause of the fire electrical and accidental.