GUY — A Guy officer was recognized Monday night for helping save two women from their burning home in Van Buren County in late April. The officer was off-duty when he rescued the elderly sisters.
Sr. Cpl. Steven Rayburn was off duty April 19 as he and his wife were driving along Highway 65 when he noticed what he believed to be a house fire.
Dennard Fire Chief Mike Banks said the off-duty officer took the initiative to investigate a little further and ensure no one was inside the home. When the small-town officer knocked on the front door of the Whistle Stop Road residence, he was met by two elderly sisters. The two were unaware their house was on fire.
At this point, Banks said Rayburn proceeded to help the women to their vehicle and went back inside the home to gather their medications for them. Rayburn called 911 just before 5 p.m. to report the structure fire.
“One of them was in a walker and he helped them out of the house and to gather their medications,” Banks said. “When the women got out of the house, they called the owner of the house where they stayed [afterward].”
Volunteer firefighters arrived on scene at 5:04 p.m. and began fighting the flames.
Guy Police Chief Christopher Humphrey recognized Rayburn for the heroic act on behalf of the city during the Guy City Council's regular meeting Monday evening.
"The City of Guy Police Department Meritorious Service Award is reserved for employees who through their deeds or actions perform an exemplary job or service that shines favorably on the police department and law enforcement as a whole," Humphrey said.
It was the first time the department had awarded an officer with the City of Guy Police Department Meritorious Service Award.
Mayor Sam Higdon said before a packed meeting room — which was filled from officers from neighboring departments as well as Rayburn's family — that the small-town officer went "above and beyond" in aiding the two Van Buren County women.
While the two women currently are waiting for the roof to be repaired, Banks told the Log Cabin Democrat the home is still standing and in relatively good condition because firefighters were “fairly quickly” able to contain the fire to the attic.
Officials believe the fire was caused by faulty electrical wiring in the attic, according to a fire report.
No injuries were reported following the incident and the structure is expected to be repaired soon, Banks said.
According to the fire report, there were no smoke detectors inside the Whistle Stop Road residence.
Humphrey said he wanted to remind the public of the importance of maintaining smoke detectors within the home, adding the devices should be checked periodically to help ensure safety.
"They should be checked once a month, and replaced every 10 years," he said. "Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms."
Humphrey said it was honorable of Rayburn to remain by the women's side until the fire department arrived on scene.
"Because of Sr. Cpl. Rayburn’s attentiveness and quick actions, it is very probable that the lives of these two women were saved that night," he said before city aldermen.
Rayburn hesitantly walked to the front of the room while those in the audience erupted in applause.
The small-town officer looked out at his brothers in blue and said he was confident they would have done the same thing if put in his shoes that day.