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Officer rescues woman, child from burning home

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett County police officer who rescued a Norcross woman and her child from a burning condo Sunday morning is being modest about what most would call a heroic act.

According to Gwinnett police spokesman David Schiralli, the officer was the first to arrive at the condo at 1416 Glenleaf Drive, finding the three-story building engulfed in flames and the woman and child trapped inside.

Schiralli said Monday the officer who rescued the family wished to remain anonymous for now.

"The officer went to a neighbor's door and knocked on the door and was able to find a bedroom window close to a window of the burning condo," Schiralli said. "He was able to reach out the window and the female inside the burning condo was able to hand off the child to the officer." He said the officer was then able to help the woman to safety.

Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge said fire crews responded about 3:36 a.m. He said the officer had already brought the pair to safety when fire crews arrived.

According to a Fire Department press release, crews found heavy smoke showing from the third floor of the building and quickly extinguished the flames, containing the blaze to the third floor unit where the fire originated.

Firefighters believe the blaze was started by a candle, Rutledge said.

"It's just fortunate (the officer) was patrolling in the area," Rutledge said. "The police officer was in the right place at the right time and did a great job."

Rutledge said the woman and child were being assisted by friends and family.

More than three hours later, another fire broke out at a Buford home, displacing eight people.

Gwinnett County firefighters found a white pickup truck and an SUV burning in the driveway of the home on Diggers Way and heavy fire issuing from the attic above the garage when they arrived shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday.

The fire is believed to have originated in the truck and extended to the home.

Rutledge said the eight residents escaped without injury and the American Red Cross was contacted to provide them with assistance.

The blaze destroyed both vehicles and caused significant damage to the attic above the garage, Rutledge said.