In the early morning hours of May 4, 2002, the Appleton Fire Department was dispatched to a house fire on Badger Avenue. Several 911 calls were being made and it was reported that two people might still be inside the burning building. Engine 325 with Lieutenant Michael Woodzicka and his crew arrived to find fire engulfing the front porch and working its way into the rest of the house. Although their concerns for the missing occupants were paramount, it was just as important to stop the spread of the growing fire. Pulling a hose line from their engine, Lt. Woodzicka and his crew first knocked down some of the fire in the front porch and then started searching the first floor while they looked to find a stairway to the second floor, as this was the most likely place for the victims to be.
Meanwhile, Truck 341 arrived and was assigned to assist in the search for the missing people. Firefighter Patrick Kearney of Truck 341 was now feeling his way up the stairs, through thick black smoke, to the second floor. As he reached a landing in the stairwell, he heard a call for assistance from Lt. Woodzicka who had found a door on the second floor that was being blocked shut from something on the inside. Together they were able to push the door open and get inside the room. There, lying unconscious, was twenty-year-old Stephanie Lindsley. Lt. Woodzicka and Firefighter Kearney carried her downstairs and brought her outside where it was discovered she was barely breathing. Gold Cross Ambulance paramedics took over her care and brought her to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where she began her recovery.
Work still needed to be done as one person was not yet accounted for. Fire crews continued their search efforts looking for the missing man. Fortunately, he had been able to get out of the burning home himself and was safe outside where he was being attended to by police officers.
Through their unrelenting and focused efforts, Lt. Woodzicka and Firefighter Kearney were able to rescue Stephanie Lindsley from her smoke filled home and since then she has been able to enjoy a full recovery from the ordeal that nearly took her life.