Police Officers are often called upon to think quickly and react to life-threatening situations in a split second. On Sunday, April 8, 2018, Police officers Natalie Cruz and Thomas Wright were dispatched to a fire call on the 1100 block of North 18th Street.
As they arrived, the Milwaukee Fire Department advised them that the fire, which was purposely set, was extinguished. They continued the investigation, conducting interviews and talking to witnesses in the apartment complex.
While they were conducting the interviews, an unknown suspect intentionally set a hallway door on fire, trapping officers Cruz and Wright as well as other tenants who lived on that floor.
Officer Cruz immediately broadcast that the apartment door was on fire, and that they could not exit the building because of the smoke and flame from the fire.
The officers gathered the tenants into an apartment, directing them to get on the floor which kept them safe, and prevented them from inhaling the dangerous smoke.
Quickly returning to the scene, the Milwaukee Fire Department extinguished the fire, and escorted the officers and tenants to safety.
The officers detailed what they saw that day.
"My partner (Officer Wright) walked up to the door, and there was a really fast swoosh noise, and flames just kept shooting under the door," Cruz noted.
"It was thick with black smoke...it was hard to breathe in there for even more than a few seconds," Wright added.
For their courage and critical thinking while they, along with the tenants, were trapped by a potentially life-threatening fire, Officers Natalie Cruz and Thomas Wright are today's WTMJ Cares Salute to Service.
WTMJ Cares is presented by First Bank Financial Centre.