Police Officers Who Ran into Burning Building Honored in Lackawanna County

MOSCOW -- Two police officers from Old Forge are being called heroes after running into a burning apartment building and helping to save more than a dozen people.

The partners were in the right place at the right time back in January when a ferocious fire started spreading through an apartment building in Old Forge.

A memorial ceremony held in front of the Moscow borough building Saturday honored generations of police who served in Lackawanna County.

Officers Colleen Catanese and Robert Harris of the Old Forge Police Department personify that tradition of bravery, but don't expect them to boast about it.

"You don't really think about it. Our job is to get people who are in, out so they don't get hurt."

Back in January, the pair was on patrol before dawn when Catanese noticed an apartment building on Oak Street was on fire. The partners ran into the smoke.

"Knocking down doors, doing what we had to do to get them out," said Harris.

"There was a lot of yelling, you got to wake people up at 2:30 in the morning," said Catanese.

Those officers ran into the burning building without any protective gear. They said as they went door to door, they could feel the heat from the fire.

"The smoke and the flames were terrible. I was out of breath"

In all, 12 people were rescued from the flames. No one was seriously injured.

The Fraternal Order of Police honored the two with "the Life Saving Award," hanging medals around their necks and offering a salute.

"I'm on the job 32 years, this is the first time this ever happened, so I feel honored," Harris said.

Back in Old Forge, neighbors looking at the wreckage gave their thanks too.

"Job well done, very good. Yes, they did a good job," said John Greco of Old Forge.

Officer Colleen Cataese had to attend the ceremony on crutches. She was injured recently helping people at another fire.

4 comments

  • nostracosta

    I can’t picture that female cop running anywhere. Speaking of O.F.P.D., have they found that pizza shop guy yet? That’s the real concern right now.

  • Marvin

    These stories should be shared all the time, so that the public can see that the police officers out there are good people trying to help and protect our communities.

  • Frank

    Old Forge has an excelent Police Force! Thanks to all the fine men and women that protect the public every day, not only in Old Forge but everywhere.

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