BATH — A father and his 4-year-old son were saved from a burning building on South Street in a daring rescue by Bath firefighters Thursday.

Bath Fire Department Capt. Chris Cummings, Fire Chief Steve Hinds and firefighter Joe McCole, among the first firefighters to arrive, found the father and son trapped inside a third-floor apartment filled with dark brown smoke, Cummings said.

The firefighters decided to use an extension ladder similar to what a homeowner might own, rather than the 110-foot motorized ladder on top of the fire truck, to get to the father and son faster. Cummings said the larger ladder would have taken longer to place in position.

“We didn’t want to wait. Their lives were in jeopardy. We made a judgment call,” Cummings said.

McCole scrambled up the extension ladder and climbed onto a roof overhang. The father, 37-year-old John Tanguay, carried his son, 4-year-old Nicholas Tanguay, out the window of the burning home and handed the boy to McCole. McCole then helped the boy onto the ladder and Cummings guided him down. The father climbed down the ladder on his own.

Once on the ground, Cummings carried the boy to a waiting ambulance. Father and son were transported to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, where they were treated for smoke inhalation. Cummings said he expected the Tanguays to be released from the hospital later in the day.


Several cats, a dog and pet bird died in the fire, and the building was heavily damaged by fire and smoke.

“The dad did a remarkable job,” Cummings said. “He remained calm and didn’t panic.”

Scott Doyle, a captain with the New Gloucester Fire Department who filmed parts of the rescue with his cellphone, praised the Bath firefighters for their courage and initiative.

“Bath firefighters performed one of the most heroic things a firefighter can do … It brought tears to my eyes,” Doyle said.

Doyle coincidentally had been at Bath’s Central Fire Station – meeting with a captain about a training matter – when the call came in about 3:30 p.m. Doyle is New Gloucester’s public safety training officer and travels around the state conducting training sessions.

Doyle drove his own truck to the South Street home, where he helped crews handle a fire hose.


Doyle said he could see dark brown smoke pouring out of a third-floor window. Doyle said he also saw flames shooting out of a window in the residence.

An investigator from the state Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate the cause, which remains unknown.

Firefighters said the fire appears to have started in a first-floor kitchen area.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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