VALPARAISO, IN. (STMW) – A police officer put out a fire and helped rescue a family with a 3-day-old infant from a smoke-filled apartment in Valparaiso, Ind., late Thursday night, even before fire trucks arrived.

Phillip Rochon, a patrolman with the Valparaiso Police Department, was alone when he responded at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to a report of smoke in the apartment building at 2802 Cumberland Drive.

A resident waiting outside unlocked the security door to let Rochon into a stairwell filled with thick smoke and some falling debris, according to the incident report. Rochon grabbed a fire extinguisher from the wall and put out the flames, which began on the third-floor landing but by then had spread to the second floor, as residents headed for the exits.

After the fire was out, resident Justin Sheppard, 23, asked for help getting two children out of his second-floor apartment, which was filling with smoke. The resident and his girlfriend, Lyndsi Ringen, 21, carried the children, the newborn and a 2-year-old girl, while Rochon escorted them out of the building.

As the Fire Department arrived and completed the evacuation, Sheppard and the 2-year-old were treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation.

Sheppard said he learned of the fire by a knock on the door and the sound of people talking in the hallway, and the smoked filled his apartment when he opened the door.

After the building was inspected and the smoke cleared, the Fire Department let the residents return to their homes. The Valparaiso Fire Department did not immediately determine the cause of the fire, according to the police report, but a cigarette is believed to have been involved.

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