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Man pulled from burning house is revived

Thermal camera was key in rescue

By David Tirrell-Wysocki
Associated Press / October 27, 2008
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A Massachusetts man was revived after being pulled not breathing from his burning seasonal home in Sanbornton, N.H., early yesterday after his wife jumped from a second-floor window to call for help.

Fire Chief John DeSilva said a firefighter using a thermal imaging camera found Robert Livoti of Waltham with little time to spare. Rescuers revived him outside.

"They were able to bring him back," he said.

The chief said the camera made all the difference in the blinding and deadly smoke.

"Another minute later, and he may not have survived in that atmosphere," DeSilva said.

"Without the camera, they would have been crawling around on hands and knees, sweeping with their arms trying to find him. Without that thermal imaging camera, they would probably have seen a different outcome."

The camera detects heat sources, such as a fallen person, through smoke and darkness.

Livoti's wife, Betty Jane, jumped from a second floor window to a porch roof, then to the ground to go to a neighbor's home to call 911 about 6:25 a.m. yesterday, DeSilva said.

A neighbor who tried to get in was turned back by dense smoke.

DeSilva said the fire started because firewood was stacked atop a coiled extension cord in the home.

"The pressure from the wood created electrical resistance in the line - pinched it off," he said. "It started there, spread into the pile of firewood and spread to the house."

The Livotis are expected to recover, the chief said.

They were spending their last weekend of the season at property, closing it up for the winter, he said.

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