BREEZY POINT, Minn. (KMSP) - A Breezy Point couple lived to see the new year thanks to the heroics of three law enforcement officers, who rescued them from their burning home.
Around 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, Breezy Point Officer and paramedic Jason Rieber was about to go home at the end of his shift when he smelled something distinct in the air.
“I rolled the window down and took a sniff and said ‘That doesn’t smell like campfire,’” said Rieber.
Acting on instinct, Rieber raced in his patrol car and found a home ablaze with flames through the roof next to the chimney. A couple with health issues was sound asleep inside.
“Started banging on the door—I didn’t get any response," said Rieber.
He radioed fellow officers for backup and called firefighters.
Dash cam video showed Officer Jay Lorch and State Trooper Nick Diedrich arrived next. With flames shooting through the roof, Diedrich kicked the door in.
“There’s a good chance [the house] could have burnt up,” said Trooper Diedrich.
“You’re just grabbing them and going,” said Officer Lorch. “You don’t really think much about the smoke or the fire or the house collapsing.”
The officers woke up Bill and Cynthia Rassmussen and told them they needed to act fast.
“Thank God that cop saw the flames coming out of the roof,” said Cynthia.
The couple is still in shock that the home they lived in for 37 years is destroyed. They believe it started in the chimney because their smoke detectors hadn't gone off yet.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Bill. “I said, ‘This house isn’t on fire and I don’t smell smoke’ and he said, ‘It’s all on the roof.’”
Officer Rieber knows the couple and has assisted the couple before.
"Knew that I was handicapped and he’s helped me out a few times and he just scooped me up,” said Cynthia.
Although the home they raised their four children in is gone and their possessions are ruined, they're alive - thanks to three hero police officers.
“They are miracles,” said Cynthia. “He was an angel, truly an angel.”
"We hope for this outcome and this time we got it," said Rieber.
In the meantime, the couple is living with extended family in the area. For donation information for the Rassmussen couple, click here.