Elderly couple rescued (video)

WARREN – An elderly husband and wife rescued from their burning home on Wednesday later were flown by helicopter to the Akron Children’s Hospital Burn Center.

Initially, Richard “Dick” and Jean Brugler, believed to be in their 80s, were rushed by ambulance from their house at 1359 Beechcrest St. N.W. to Trumbull Memorial Hospital. A report on their condition was unavailable Wednesday night.

Neighbors said Richard Brugler was already out of the burning home, located on the city’s northwest side, when they went next door to help the couple. Firefighters had to crawl through a broken bedroom window to rescue Jean Brugler.

“We were told where the wife was, and because of that, the firefighters were able to rescue her pretty quickly,” Warren fire Chief Ken Nussle said. “She could have died had they not known where she was.”

The cause of the fire was under investigation but it appeared it may have started in a recreation room on the first floor of the two-story structure, Nussle said. A damage estimate was not available.

Neighbor Shelley Wonders said she was sitting on her couch talking to a friend around 11 a.m. when she saw smoke outside through a side window of her home, which is next door to the Bruglers. She and her husband, Jay, went outside and realized the Bruglers’ home was on fire, she said.

Shelley Wonders called 911 and her husband went to see how he could help.

“I’m a teacher and I happened to be off school because of the weather,” she said. ”We’ve known them for a very long time. We thought she was probably in the bedroom, in bed, because that’s where she usually is. She has Alzheimer’s.”

Jay Wonders said Richard Brugler was on the back steps and seemed OK.

“I went around the house and tried getting in through the door, but the flames and smoke were too bad. I broke some windows to try to get in that way and help her but I wasn’t able to,” Jay Wonders said.

When firefighters arrived, smoke was pouring from the doors and windows of the house. The Wonders directed rescuers to the area of the house where they believed Jean Brugler was located. Firefighters lifted the woman off her bed and out through the window.

Nussle said Richard Brugler uses oxygen. He said it appeared the husband and wife may each have been suffering from smoke inhalation and other possible injuries when they were taken to the hospital.

Fire crews from throughout the city, as well as Warren police, were at the scene.

“We know that they were both breathing when they left in the ambulance,” Nussle said. “How seriously they may or may not be hurt, I really don’t know at this point.”