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A Hot Week for Four Brave SEPTA Police Officers

David Gaines
SEPTA Media Relations Intern

Disaster struck in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia during the busy evening rush hour on July 1, when a food truck exploded at 3rd Street and Wyoming Avenue. The catastrophe received nationwide media coverage, and SEPTA's Lieutenant John Arnold, Sergeant Evan Horn and Officer Don Noz won acclaim for their bold and quick action on the scene of the incident.

However, very few know that while Arnold, Horn and Noz had their hands full in Feltonville, another courageous but unheralded SEPTA officer plunged himself into harm's way in a valiant rescue attempt to save a resident from a burning building.

Early Saturday morning July 5, Sergeant Tim Catto was returning home from an exhausting 15-hour shift when he noticed smoke rising from a nearby renovated warehouse.

"I was trying to get in, but it was really sealed up," explained Catto. "I was screaming 'Fire!' and woke the whole neighborhood up. Some of the neighbors came out and told me there were two people living in the building."

One of the building's residents who lived in the basement came out and gave him access into the building;and after dashing up the stairs, Catto was able to notify the last remaining resident about the fire and escort him and his dog safely out of the building.

"I didn't even have any coffee that shift," said Catto, "but you get that adrenaline rush, and when I found out that people lived inside that building I knew I had to get them out."

Shortly after their escape, the Philadelphia Fire Department arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire. There was minimal building damage and, thanks to Catto, no reported injuries. Fire Department officials believe the cause of the fire was fireworks that landed on the rooftop.

"I am the biggest cheerleader for the officers in this department. In these two particular cases, we were just in the right place when someone needed help," said SEPTA Chief of Police Thomas Nestel. "These men showed tremendous selfless and courageous behavior, and I'm fascinated at how many members of this department have that kind of character and desire to help other people."

Whether it's a sudden food truck explosion or a blazing rooftop fire, you never know when disaster will strike. However, as long as brave emergency responders like Arnold, Horn, Noz and Catto are around, the greater Philadelphia region will be a much safer place.


Sgt. Horn (left) and Lt. Arnold, along with Officer Noz (not pictured) are stationed at SEPTA's 200 W. Wyoming Avenue - just one block from the food truck explosion.



(From left) Horn, Noz and Arnold were interviewed by WPVI-TV reporter David Henry.



Sgt. Tim Catto was an off-duty hero when he rescued fire victims on his way home from work on July 5.