WORCESTER (CBS) – The Worcester Fire Department is lauding the heroic actions of an off-duty fire lieutenant who helped rescue a family during a deadly fire that killed an 85-year-old woman.

More lives could have been lost in Monday’s fire if it wasn’t for Worcester Fire Lt. Christopher Kelly, the department said in a statement Friday.

“Lieutenant Kelly’s exceptional actions are a testament to his dedication to his profession and to his community,” the department said. “His quick and decisive actions undoubtedly saved the life of his neighbor who was valiantly trying to assist his mother exit from the burning home. The department is proud and humbled by these unselfish heroic actions.”

worcester Worcester Firefighter Praised For Heroic Actions During Deadly Fire

Firefighters at the house on Green Farm Road early Monday morning. (Photo credit: Worcester Fire Dept.)

Marie Montalvo, 85, died in the fire. Her son and husband, both in their 60s, were rescued.

Investigators said the fire appeared to have started in a hole in the roof, above the front bedroom. The fire then appeared to move to the bedroom where Montalvo was sleeping.

Just before 7 a.m. Monday, Kelly was starting his day and getting ready to report for duty on Ladder Co. 7 for a 24-hour shift.

While leaving his home, Kelly saw flames coming from the windows of a neighbor’s home on Green Farm Road. He immediately ran toward the fire and yelled to his wife to call 911 and report the fire to authorities.

Kelly “immediately began to pound on the windows and doors of the home to alert the occupants and gain access to the building,” the fire department said.

An adult male came to a rear window and told Kelly that he was trying to get his physically impaired mother out of the room.

Kelly looked in the window and saw that the growing fire was blocking the exit from the room.

“He tried to guide the male to lift the elderly woman to the window where he had pushed the upper half of his body through to grab and pull the woman to safety,” the department said.

Together the men made several attempts to lift the woman up to the small window, located some four feet from the floor level.

As conditions worsened, Kelly was able to pull the male through the window to safety.

He then directed the members of Engine 3 to the exact location of the elderly woman and manned a hose line.

Crews quickly found Montalvo, who was still conscious, and pulled her from the building.

Despite the efforts of paramedics, Montalvo was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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