EMTs who saved 9 people from blaze detail rescue run

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Brian Schimanski and Christopher Mateja 

Two Detroit EMTs saved nine people from a house that had been firebombed.

Just after 3 a.m. Tuesday they responded to a car and house on fire on Avon Street on the city's west side. Fire crews were battling another fire and couldn't get there  immediately so emergency medical techs from Medic 22 were first at the scene.

Brian Schimanski and Christopher Mateja started knocking down the flames with a fire extinguisher and began banging on the doors to wake everyone inside.

"Finally someone answered and we told them their house was on fire," said Mateja. "She told us that there were young children in the house. Instinct - went in, grabbed the children up, got everybody out. Seven to nine people total that we got out, I grabbed a couple kids out of the back room, ran out of the house with them.

"Brian got the male occupant out of the house, who actually ended up as the owner of the vehicle. All of them were very distraught, nobody was injured fortunately."

"We got people out in a good amount of time," Schimanski said. "Basically we saved the front of their house so the engine could get there and knock the rest of the fire out before it got really bad.

"If we would not have gone into that fire, by the time the engine got there, they would have had a big fiasco on their hands. The house would have been going really well and the kids would have been possibly trapped upstairs and downstairs with no way of exiting because the front door was on fire when we pulled up."

Mateja has been on the job just under three years, while Schimanski has been an EMT for eight months. Both are just glad they could help save some lives this morning.

"The fire was found to be started in multiple locations," said Deputy Fire Commissioner David Fornell said. "So investiigators are calling it suspicious - possible arson."

And while those living in the home did not wish to speak on camera deep gratitude is expressed for those two dedicated EMTs.

"They risked their lives - they didn't have on gear like firefighters and got victims out of the house," Fornell said. "We're just so proud of them."