RICHMOND — The mother of a local man rescued from a burning apartment building early Christmas morning said it is a miracle her son is alive.

Wade Welner, 30, who rented the apartment where authorities said the fire started, was upgraded from critical to serious condition Monday afternoon, according to a Maine Medical Center spokesman.

Welner’s mother, Lissa Nichols, said the medical signs are encouraging, but the family doesn’t yet know what Welner is up against for challenges to his recovery.

“It’s a miracle that he’s even alive,” Nichols said Monday.

Nichols, who raised her family in Richmond but now lives in Arizona, was preparing to travel to Maine to join her son and other family members gathered at the Portland hospital, where Welner is in the intensive care unit.

Welner was pulled from his second floor apartment by Richmond Officer Christopher Giles and Cpl. Ian Alexander, of Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office. The two forced Welner’s second-floor apartment door open, found him in the bathroom and dragged him to safety, according to Richmond Police Chief Scott MacMaster.

Nichols said she is beyond thankful, and said the two men are selfless heroes for going into the burning building to save her son. She said she has already spoken by phone with Giles and she hopes, when she is in Maine, to thank him, Alexander and the fire department in person.

“Thank you seems so inadequate for saving somebody’s life,” she said.

MacMaster said the two officers showed dedication to law enforcement’s creed, to protect and serve.

“Without their bravery this fire would have had a much more grim outcome,” MacMaster said Monday of Giles’ and Alexander’s actions in entering the burning building to pull Welner out of his apartment. “Many in the Richmond community are proud to have them serving, and that statement includes me as well.”

Nichols said Welner is known as a giving, sensitive, kind and happy guy who would do anything for anybody, including, if the roles had been reversed, risking his own life to save someone else’s.

“I just told Officer Giles, the guy you saved, he would have done exactly the same thing for you,” Nichols said of his rescue.

Multiple investigators from the Office of Maine State Fire Marshal were at the property Sunday. They determined the fire started in Welner’s apartment, but Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Sunday determining the exact cause of the fire will take additional time.

McCausland said Welner is expected to survive his injuries.

The fire that destroyed the four-unit apartment building at 34 Main St. was reported around 12:40 a.m. Sunday, Christmas morning.

A gofundme page created by Welner’s sister, Annie Jeanette Welner, seeks to raise funds to help him recover from the fire, which destroyed all his belongings.

“Early morning of December 25th a tragic accident involving my brother Wade Welner occurred causing all of his belongings to be lost in fire damage,” the page states. “The most we can ask is for prayer during his recovery, but anything would be helpful.”

As of Monday afternoon, the page, which was created Sunday, had raised more than $2,100, toward a $5,000 goal.

Nichols said the funds raised will go to help Welner recover from the fire. He could face a long road to recovery, which could include extensive rehabilitation.

“We have no idea where he’ll be going home to, or when,” she said. “We don’t know what he’s up against long term for recovery at this point.”

She said he is surrounded by family at the hospital, and the family has, in turn, been overwhelmed by the support shown by the community. She spoke briefly with him by phone, telling him she loved him and she was on her way.

Fire Chief Matt Roberge said two of the building’s four units were occupied. The building’s lone other tenant escaped the fire on his own. He told Giles and Alexander, the first police officers to arrive at the scene, Welner was inside.

The flames were concentrated on the second floor of the building when firefighters arrived, Roberge said. Several area fire departments responded to fight the fire with some remaining on the scene until 5:30 a.m. Sunday. The charred remains of the building will likely have to be demolished.

The property, owned by Gary Nash, is assessed by the town for tax purposes at $198,200.

The four-unit apartment building was built in 1850, according to town records, and sits on a 0.39 acre lot.