KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Officer Amir Khillah was the first to arrive to an apartment fire on Portage Street Sunday morning. He saw a crowd of people standing outside, some of them yelling and screaming about the fire. He immediately ran into the four-unit building to see if any residents were inside.
“I pushed the door open to one of the units,” said Officer Khillah during an interview at Kalamazoo Public Safety headquarters. “Initially I couldn’t see anything or anyone and got overcome by smoke. So I retreated out and crawled back in on my hands an knees, get under the smoke.”
Ofc. Khillah crawled around and began shouting. He hoped someone would hear him and respond but he heard nothing. However within than a minute of crawling he bumped into something that he thought to be a foot.
“The patient was slumped over on what was either a couch or a bed in the first room,” said Ofc. Khillah who attempted to wake the man up. “I sternal rubbed him, shook him, got no response. So I dragged him out of the house.”
Ofc. Khillah said he grabbed the man by his arms and rushed him out of the house. His partners, who were outside, immediately tended to him and revived the 34-year-old. Then the officer went back inside the house.
“I could see the flames in the corner of the house, the back right corner of the house coming out of the kitchen area,” said Ofc. Khillah. “[It] was getting a little too hard to breathe so I had to retreat.”
The victim was treated and released while on-scene, he said. But it was the neighbor’s fire alarm that saved his life.
“Smoke detectors save lives,” said Ofc. Khillah. “The victims unit yesterday did not have a working smoke detector, luckily an adjacent neighbor had one.”
Since his efforts, Ofc. Khillah has been called a hero. But he’s not having any of it, he said. He was simply doing his job.
“I love my job and I enjoy what I do,” said Of. Khillah. “If it was 20 seconds later than I was, the partner behind me would’ve done the exact same thing.”
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