By Ken MacLeod

WEST BROOKFIELD (CBS) – A part time police officer in West Brookfield very likely saved lives over the weekend, when he got three people out of a house that had been set on fire by a lightning strike.

Officer Frank Jolin got big hug Monday night from Mandy Leo — whose daughter was one of them. “Nothing prepares you for this,” Leo said holding back tears. “Nothing.”

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Leo and her husband were out of town over the weekend, leaving the house to her adult daughter and two of her friends.

The garage of a West Brookfield home caught fire after it was struck by lightning (WBZ-TV)

It was four o’clock Sunday morning during a nasty storm when the garage of the home on West Main Street was hit.

Officer Jolin was less than a mile away when a neighbor called in the flames and he was the first to arrive on scene.

Flames were already shooting from the roof when that neighbor told Officer Jolin that he’d been unable to rouse the three occupants by pounding on the door.

“When you’re told there’s people inside you just go to work,” said Officer Jolin. “All you’re thinking about is getting in there and getting everybody out as fast as you can.”

West Brookfield Police Officer Frank Jolin (WBZ-TV)

In fact, it was only when Officer Jolin smashed a front window to make his entry that one of the folks inside woke up — and dialed 911.

Not because she knew the house was on fire — but because she thought a burglar was breaking in.

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The uniformed officer quickly convinced the couple upstairs they had to get out, and then tracked down Mandy Leo’s daughter in a basement bedroom — as smoke began to fill the place.

“You know it’s funny,” said Officer Jolin, “but you really don’t think about the danger.”

“Property can be replaced,” said a thankful Mandy Leo. “But people can’t.”

With the help of a solid metal door between the garage and the house, responding firefighters were able to contain the blaze.

But plenty of folks credit Officer Jolin with saving lives — even as he downplays his heroic effort.

“Anybody I work with — all of my brothers in blue — they’d do the same thing,” suggested a humble Officer Jolin.

“I just have no words for it,” says Mandy Leo. “I just don’t.”

Turns out, Officer Jolin is a fulltime electrician — and a part-time cop — who says the reward for his weekend patrols isn’t the paycheck. It’s knowing he made a difference — and that people appreciate it.

“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” says Officer Jolin with a smile.

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That was followed by another hug from a grateful Mom.

Ken MacLeod