On August 17 Robert Lynds, Valley City, was the victim of severe smoke inhalation when his house caught fire, causing smoke to fill the entire house, located on 11th Avenue Southeast, almost from floor to ceiling.
Lynds’ girlfriend Janet Peterson of Valley City, said Lynds was 99.9 percent dead when police officers arrived.
Lynds’ doctors said one more breath and it would have been his last.
Valley City Police Officer Dave Swenson was the first to arrive at the scene, where he pulled Lynds out of the house.
Swenson arrived just in time after being dispatched from a 911 call made by Peterson.
Peterson said she was on her way to drop off prescription medication to Lynds, who had been sick for a few days prior, when she heard the smoke alarm before even entering the house.
That’s where she found him unresponsive on the living room floor.
“I tried to drag him out by myself but I couldn’t, and that’s when I called 911,” Peterson said.
Swenson said when he arrived, Peterson had motioned that Lynds was in the house.
“When we were there, the door was open, and you could see some smoke coming out of the house out the front door. He was about five to six feet from the front door,” Swenson said.
Swenson ran in and grabbed Lynds and drug him outside, where Valley City Police Officer Wade Hannig had arrived to the scene and assisted Swenson.
That’s when the officers started doing first responder assistance before the ambulance arrived. Swenson said the ambulance showed up quickly after, before the fire department.
“He needed the assistance. It’s something that i would expect any officer to do: you respond to a call, you react appropriately,” Swenson said.
In this case, Lynds was close enough to the doorway that Swenson was able to drag him out without waitig for the fire department.
Lynds was taken to Mercy Hospital in Valley City and then airlifted to Fargo.
Peterson said most of the damage to Lynds’ house is smoke damage.
Authorities are not sure what caused the fire, but they think it might have been a malfunctioning microwave. Lynds was on life support for five days following the incident. He has suffered pnemonia as a result of the smoke inhalation.
Peterson said that while Lynds is still struggling, he has been out of the hospital for a week now.
“His place didn’t burn to the ground, fortunately, like the other two (house fires a week later) did,” Peterson said.
Lynds does not remember the incident, saying he was bed bound at the time.
Both Lynds and Peterson are grateful for the quick response by Swenson and for the care by doctors.
“I have so much gratitude for Swenson, you know, because I couldn’t get him out,” Peterson said. “I feel he should be honored. I know that is their job, but I think he went above and beyond.”
Lynds feels the same way saying, “The fire department saved my house, and Dave saved my life. I’ve already thanked him myself, but I’d like to see him get honored in some other way.”