Greencastle teen saves family and property in fire

PAT FRIDGEN
Connor Weiss of Worleytown is credited with saving his sister and four pets after a fire broke in their home.

A Worleytown youth is being honored at the state and local level for his heroic efforts during a house fire on July 20. Connor Weiss, 14, is credited with saving his sister Ceara, 7, and four pets after a fire broke out in the bathroom. Greencastle Rescue Hose Company officials say his quick response protected his sister and the animals, kept fire damage to a minimum, and guided emergency vehicles to the scene. They held a ceremony Saturday morning to present him with a plaque, as well as a citation from Rep. Todd Rock and the House of Representatives. The RHC also gave the family smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and house signs.

The recognition came during Fire Prevention Week. The son of Roger Weiss and Eileen Cochran, Connor was joined by his family as he met the members of the local fire department.

In his own words

Connor recalled the events of that afternoon. He was home alone with Ceara and fell asleep, to awaken to the sound of the smoke alarm. He sent her outside and went to investigate.

"I got the small fire extinguisher by the microwave and saw smoke coming from the bathroom. I touched the door handle, then opened it. There was a fire in the corner."

The extinguisher didn't work so he grabbed a larger one in the kitchen and put out the fire. Once outside himself, he heard crackling from the bathroom. Because by then the smoke indoors was heavy, causing him to cough, he ran around to the side of the house, took off the screen, opened the window and extinguished the fire from there.

"It was really scary," Connor said. "I don't know if you'd call it stupid, but I wasn't concerned about myself. All I cared about was my sister. I could feel the adrenaline pumping."

At that point Ceara asked, "What about the dogs?" He realized the family's two Shih Tzus, Maltese and labrador retriever were still in the house. He returned inside, covering his mouth.

"That's when the smoke really got to me."

The three small pups were in a cage, which he carried outdoors. Finally, he was able to phone his sister Emily, 19, who in turn called the fire department and their mother. Connor also called 911. Emily, on her way home during the excitement, rescued the lab. Unfortunately, one Shih Tzu died the next day of smoke inhalation.

The Rescue Hose Co. knocked down a wall to completely put out the electrical fire. Connor was transported to the hospital to check out his lungs.

Cochran remembered the moment. "That day I was torn in many directions. They had taken Connor away in the ambulance and I remained at the fire. People said we are very lucky because we could have lost our house. To me that is a moot point. I am eternally grateful to my son for saving two of the most precious people in the world to me."

Everyday life

Connor is a freshman at Mercersburg Academy and active in football and lacrosse. He participates in classes at Thompson's Karate Studio, as well as  school clubs for investments, drama and grilling. If he had to choose his future today he would operate a martial arts school.

Though life has returned to normal, the adults around him will still view Connor as recorded on the legislative citation, "He has shown great courage and instinct through his valiant actions, which will long be remembered and appreciated."