VIDEO: Alton police officer enters burning building in attempted rescue
An onlooker caught amazing footage of an Alton police officer entering a burning building in an attempt to rescue someone he thought was inside.
"All I was thinking about was, 'Whoever is in there we got to get them out. I'm not going to stand by and not do anything,'" said Alton police officer George Ibarra.
Amidst the thick smoke and the heat of the fire, Ibarra had only one thing on his mind: save whoever was caught inside.
"I'll be honest, I wasn't even thinking about the heroics or anything like that, I didn't want anybody to lose their life if I knew I could do something," Ibarra said.
The blaze started at 6 p.m. Sunday evening at a business plaza on Main Avenue in Alton. When Officer Ibarra got onto the scene after hearing the fire on the police scanner, he heard people shouting that a woman was inside the burning building.
"The fact that someone was telling me with such certain, 'Hey, somebody's in there, somebody's in there'; I was going to take a chance," said Ibarra. "I was going to get in there and get them out."
A CBS 4 viewer caught Ibarra going inside and searching for the woman for minutes, but no one was inside. No one was hurt in the blaze. Although Ibarra is a police officer, he is cross training with the fire department for situations like these.
"My training I've gotten from Alton FD," said Ibarra. "I knew the fire was dangerous and starting up, but I knew I still had a chance to get them out and my main concern was the preservation of life and getting the person that was in there and getting them out."
Because of the cross training done in Alton, Chief Javier Garcia says he's confident law enforcement throughout the city is prepared for anything.
"The police department officers go through the fire academy and our firefighters go to the police academy, so the officer that went in has 456 hours of firefighting," said Garcia. "In fact, he's a fire cadet."
The Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of Sunday's fire. Chief Garcia says because the building was undergoing renovations, it's unclear how much the damage will cost the owners.
Mission, Edinburg, and Weslaco Fire Departments all responded to the blaze.