EL CENTRO — On April 21, 2015, the El Centro Police Department and City of El Centro joined representatives from Congressman Juan Vargas’ office, Senator Ben Hueso’s office and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s office to recognize members of the police department and a community member for their heroic actions at a structure fire on March 4, 2015.
The recognition at Tuesday’s city council took place in front of a standing room only crowd. Several family members affected by the fire joined members of the community and police department in recognizing the efforts of the El Centro officers. The following individuals were recognized:
Community member Gail Cesena received a certificate of recognition for contacting the 9-1-1 dispatch center after hearing breaking glass at her neighbor’s house. Chief Madueño commended Ms. Cesena for “doing the right thing by calling 9-1-1 because too often people look the other way.” It was Ms. Cesena’s call to 9-1-1 that started the police response to what ultimately ended up being a residential fire.
Officer Adrian Hirales was patrolling an area not far from the call in the 1200 block of Aurora when he noticed the call come up on his mobile data computer. He began responding to the area and arrived on scene in under a minute. Officer Hirales immediately noticed flames coming from a residence and heard the call for help from a resident. He quickly learned another individual was still inside the house that was rapidly filling with flames and black smoke.
Officer Singh was the second officer on scene, arriving moments after Officer Hirales. Officer Hirales informed Officer Singh there was another person still inside the burning house. With little regard for their own safety, both officers immediately sprung into action and forced their way into the house, locating the other person and assisting him to safety. Chief Madueño commented to the full room, “These officers did not act as officers, they acted as human beings. They were not expected to go into the burning house. They were not equipped to do so. Had they not entered the house they would not have been sanctioned. They went into the house to save a fellow human being.” Both Officer Hirales and Officer Singh were awarded the department’s Medal of Valor Tuesday night for their selfless lifesaving acts.
Sergeant John Seaman arrived shortly after the first two officers. He directed resources to the location and assisted all of the officers on scene. Sergeant Seaman received a Letter of Commendation for his efforts and supervision.
Within less than two minutes all of the department’s police officers were at the fire scene. Officers Jesus Viesca and Jill Crothers broke out windows at the front of the residence to vent the smoke and call to Officers Singh and Hirales who were still struggling to locate the resident inside the location. Officer Viesca later returned to assist in the clean up and removal of the family pets, which unfortunately did not survive. Officer Crothers searched law enforcement databases to locate the residents’ relatives and inform them of the fire. Officers Viesca and Crothers received Letters of Commendation for their actions.
Dispatchers Giselle Frazier and Cynthia Guzman were on-duty when the original 9-1-1 call came into the the dispatch center. They quickly routed the call about the breaking glass, causing officers to respond to the location in a quick manner. They dispatched fire resources to the location after learning the call was actually a structure fire rather than a police matter. After learning the outcome and circumstances of the fire, and following their 12 hour shift, Dispatchers Frazier and Guzman purchased flowers and a get well card for the residents and visited with them at the hospital.
Chief Madueño told everyone involved in the incident that the El Centro Police Department and the community was proud of them for their efforts.