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W.Va. police officers honored for heroism

September 09, 2000

W.Va. police officers honored for heroism



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Two Jefferson County police officers were on their way to lunch last summer when they heard a report of a house fire with people possibly trapped inside.

They rushed to the scene of the fire at the corner of Lawrence and Congress streets and saw heavy smoke coming from the three-story building.

Despite the heavy smoke accumulating inside, Charles Town Police Lt. Doug Nichols and Ranson Police Capt. Mickey Ballenger went to the third floor to look for people.

They met a man coming down the steps from the third floor and helped him out of the building. They went to the second floor and found a woman who was still in her apartment, Nichols said.

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Nichols and Ballenger got the woman out of the house, but she told them her pet bird was still in the apartment. The officers went back to the woman's apartment and rescued the bird.

On Saturday night, Nichols and Ballenger were honored for their efforts at a conference of the West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown. The two officers received the association's Medal of Honor for their efforts.

"It was an ugly fire. You couldn't see at all," said Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge.

Nichols said he was able to make his way out of the house because he could see the outside light at the front door dimly through the smoke.

"It was getting so we couldn't hang in there," said Nichols, who has been with the Charles Town Police Department for 25 years.

Ballenger, who has been with the Ranson Police Department for 25 years, said he felt compelled to do whatever he could for the people inside when he heard the call.

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