"He didn't have a lot of time," Malone Patrolman Nathan Preve said.
Scott Betters was asleep in his second floor apartment on Morton Street in Malone last week, when a fast-moving fire woke him up.
"The whole room was pitch black and filled with soot," Betters said. "The roof was like on fire, it was really hot and I could barely breathe."
Betters, who has an injured leg and needs a cane to walk, tried to escape through his apartment door, but said it was too hot. His only chance of escaping the raging fire was through a narrow window and onto a porch roof 5-feet away.
"I was like stuck in the window because I couldn't quite reach the roof area," Betters said.
"He looked like he was trying to get out, but also avoid falling," Preve said.
"He was just covered with soot, visibly burned," Malone Patrolman Nicholas Hebert said.
With Betters stuck dangling 20 feet above the ground, Patrolman Brian Miller, who was off duty, and a fireman found a ladder in a nearby garage. Meanwhile Preve and Hebert ran into the burning building to access the roof area in an effort to rescue Betters.
"I went out a window there and made it onto the porch roof and (Hebert) came over there was able to grab onto my coat and I was able to reach him from that direction," Preve explained.
Betters went into shock, leaving the officers to pull his body out of the window.
"I don't know how we would have gotten him out if it wasn't for the ladders, because there was no way we could pull him onto the porch roof," Preve said. "Just the distance and the porch roof being covered with snow and ice, it wasn't an area to be standing on."
After the rescue, Betters spent a night in the hospital where he received treatment for numerous burns and cuts to his back and arms.
Investigators say they will likely never know what sparked the fire because the damage to the apartment house was so extensive. They do believe it started in a ceiling above the second floor.
Many in the community call the police officers heroes, but they disagree, saying it was just another day on the job.
"I don't think we did anything that any normal human being wouldn't have done," Preve said. "You get into a situation like that, you do what you have to to make sure everybody is fine."
"I would like to thank them for the very efficient help that they showed and care that they expressed in their lives saving my life," Betters said.
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