Officers were in the right place at the right...

Posted at 5:23 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 18:23:21-05

A wreath still hangs on the Damper’s front door and Christmas lights are draped on trees.

“Sure hate to see something like this happen right at Christmas time especially,” said 84-year-old Robert Damper.

After more than 40 Christmases at 30th and Ernst, the Dampers will have to spend Christmas elsewhere. 

“I didn’t know what was going on when I first saw the smoke.  It never dawned on me that it was a fire,” said Damper.

Damper says around 9 a.m. Sunday, a closest light bulb sparked and burst into flames. 

While responding to a call in the area, two OPD officers noticed the fire.  Veteran Officer Robbie Goering-Jensen and Officer Anthony Abboud, who was only 15 minutes into his first shift, rushed into action.

 “It just kicked in, it was like training.  I just went where he told me to go, we just did it as a team,” said Officer Anthony Abboud.

Officer Goering-Jensen who used to work as a firefighter in the military used his training to rescue Damper’s three disabled sons.

“I was a little bit concerned about what my limitation was, but after hearing the lady call for help in the back bedroom, that is what got me to go back in for the third time,” said Officer Robbie Goering-Jensen. 

Damper’s wife was still trapped inside.

“I felt that I was obligated as my job as an officer to do what I could to help the people inside,” said Officer Goering-Jensen.

Officer Abboud says his memorable first day on the job solidifies why he became an officer.

“These are the days that you live for and it was a very surreal day,” said Officer Abboud.

Damper’s daughter Shameka says she is eternally grateful for the officers and this Christmas the only gift she is thinking about is the gift of life.

“Lives are not replaceable.  I don’t know what I would have done if I would have lost my parents and my brothers,” said Shameka Damper.