Robert Clancy called a “hero” for rescuing disabled neighbor from smoke-filled house.

MIDDLETOWN, NJ – At 07:50 am Wednesday, December 18, 2019 the Middletown Township Fire Department was dispatched to 160 Morningside Avenue for a report of smoke coming from the residence. The East Keansburg and Port Monmouth Fire Companies were initially dispatched.

Middletown Fire Department 2nd Assistant Chief Bernard Chenoweth was the first arriving officer on scene and upon arrival requested a third company from Belford Engine be dispatched for a confirmed working structure fire. Chief Chenoweth further reported all occupants had been removed seconds later.

The first arriving fire apparatus was Ladder 160 from Port Monmouth. Chief Chenoweth ordered the ladder take the front of the building and had members stretch the initial 1 ¾ hand line to front door. The second arriving fire apparatus was Engine 164 from Port Monmouth. Engine 164 connected to the nearest hydrant to establish a continuous water supply and hand stretched a 200’ 5 inch line into Ladder 160. As firefighters arrived a second back up 1 ¾ hand line was stretched to the front door as well.


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The attack hose line crews were met at the front door with floor-to-ceiling heavy dark smoke conditions with zero visibility. With charged hose lines, each 2 man team had to stretch deep into the structure in order to find the origin of the fire. Within minutes firefighters located the fire, concealed at first, it was located behind the closed door of a bedroom. When the door to the bedroom was breached, the fire flashed out the doorway and over the heads of the attack crews. In a coordinated effort by both interior hose teams, the fire was pushed back into the bedroom as the ceiling in the bedroom collapsed to the floor. Both teams advanced their lines into the room suppressing the main body of fire. Pockets of fire were located, but were quickly extinguished.

During suppression operations Chief of the Department Steven Schweizer arrived on scene as did 3rd Assistant Chief John Waltz. Chief Schweizer was quickly briefed by Chief Chenoweth and command of the scene was transferred. The main body of fire was declared knocked at 08:12 am.

The owner/occupant Richard Borucki, 74 years of age, was home and asleep at the time the fire was reported. There were no functioning smoke alarms according to Mr. Borucki due to his recent release from a year long stay in the hospital from various ailments. Mr. Borucki further stated, had it not been for the heroic efforts from his neighbor Robert Clancy, he might not be alive.

Robert Clancy residing at 162 Morningside Avenue when asked, stated he was putting his recycling out to the curb when he noticed heavy dark colored smoke coming from Mr. Borucki’s home. Knowing Mr. Borucki had just returned from the hospital and needed the assistance of a walker to mobilize, Clancy stated he needed to do something right away. So, without hesitation and with great risk for his own safety, Robert Clancy entered the front door of Mr. Borucki’s home, fought back choking smoke, and made his way to the rear of the structure where he located Mr. Borucki. Once located, Clancy dragged the 74-year-old disabled man to safety out a rear-side door. Once Mr. Borucki was safe outside, Clancy went back into the smoke filled building to retrieve the walker.
Mr. Robert Clancy demonstrated a heroic act of kindness under extreme conditions that lead to a successful and positive ending. Chief Schweizer wishes to recognize his efforts and will forward the same to the mayor and council.

The structure sustained fire damage to a bedroom, the adjoining rooms and smoke damage throughout.

No firefighter injuries were reported while operating on scene.

All units operated safely under the supervision of Middletown Township Fire Department Chief Steven Schweizer.

Twenty (20) firefighters responded to the scene from three (3) Middletown Township Fire Companies including the Safety and Air Units. The companies who responded are as follows: East Keansburg, Port Monmouth and Belford Engine.
The origin and cause of this fire is under investigation by the Middletown Fire Marshal’s Office.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...