Firefighters battle blaze in Dewey Beach

Officer Jack Kane receives minor burn saving seven people and a dog
April 16, 2022

A house fire April 16 in Dewey Beach caused about $1 million in damage, fire officials said, as they continue to investigate.

About 3 a.m., Dewey Beach Police Sgt. Cliff Dempsey said Officer Jack Kane was driving on his routine patrol on Coastal Highway when he thought he saw fog moving from the bayside across the street. 

Kane noticed there was no moisture on his windshield, which would have occurred with fog, Dempsey said, so he rolled down his window and immediately smelled smoke.

Kane followed the smoke to the house fire at 1902 Bayard Ave., between Swedes and Saulsbury streets, and called 911, Dempsey said. The fire was pretty involved at that point, Dempsey said, and residents were confused when Kane started beating on the door. 

Then, Kane went around the right side of the home and up the back stairs to the second floor to help a woman and her dog escape the blaze. The woman’s dog got loose and ran back into the house, and Kane went back into the burning building to save the dog, Dempsey said.

The fire then spread to 124 and 122 Swedes St., Dempsey said, while Kane was banging on doors of neighboring homes to alert residents and get them out.

Bill Kramen, who said he lives in one of the homes badly damaged by the fire, posted on Facebook that he and his wife woke up to a nightmare with fire blowing into their bedroom window. They were able to escape their home uninjured. He posted a pair of videos of the fire enveloping two homes. 

Firefighters arrived at the home engulfed in flames, said Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio, who estimated the fire damage will exceed $1 million.

Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company public information officer Warren Jones said the Rehoboth fire company, Lewes Fire Department and Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company were dispatched to fight the blaze.

Rehoboth was assisted on the scene by Sussex County Emergency Medical Services and Indian River, Milton, Millville, Millsboro, Memorial, Dagsboro and Ellendale fire companies with Frankford, Greenwood and Carlisle fire companies covering the Rehoboth and Lewes fire stations, Jones said.

Jones said Kane successfully evacuated seven people from both floors of the home at 1902 Bayard Ave., and sustained a minor burn to his hand. Kane was treated by EMS at the scene, Jones said.

Firefighters remained on the scene for five hours, Jones said, and besides Kane, no other injuries were reported.

Kane, age 22, has been a full-time officer with Dewey Beach Police Department for two years, and was a seasonal officer for two years prior to that, Dempsey said. 

On his way home around 7:30 a.m., April 16, Kane was one of the first responders to arrive at the scene of an incident where a person was in cardiac arrest near the Movies at Midway, Dempsey said. Kane and Delaware State Police officers assisted with CPR until Sussex County EMS arrived, Dempsey said.

Anyone with information about the house fire is asked to contact the State Fire Marshal – Sussex Division at or by calling 302-856-5600.

Note: This story was updated April 18 with additional information.

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