Torrey James is heaped with awards, and gratitude, for quick response to fire

Chester. 'You were pretty awesome that day': Village's trustees, firefighters, and police officers thank Whispering Hills resident who alerted his neighbors to a fast-moving blaze.

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  • James and Elena Torrey and Elena with their children, Nylah, Selena, London, Gianni, and Tori (Photo by Leslie Smith)

  • From left: Police Chief Peter Graziano, Sgt. Anthony Vicaretti, Court Attendant Johnny Motz, Officer Christine Garry, Torrey James, Officer Jason Andino, and Detective Mark Vukusanovich (Photo by Leslie Smith)

"We would like to thank Mr. James for his actions, which undoubtedly saved some lives and bodily injuries. That was a pretty bad fire."
Police Chief Peter Graziano

By Leslie Smith

Torrey James was honored by Village of Chester's board of trustees, fire department, and police department for his lifesaving heroism for alerting his neighbors of a fast-moving fire at Whispering Hills.

Village police Chief Peter Graziano told the story of that day. James was returning home at about 6:30 p.m. on March 22 when he noticed heavy smoke in the driveway of one of the units in the 1300 section of Whispering Hills Drive. He called out, but when he heard nothing back, he called 911. He then ran around, knocking on doors and yelling to get people's attention.

"We would like to thank Mr. James for his actions, which undoubtedly saved some lives and bodily injuries," said Graziano. "That was a pretty bad fire. We have some awards to bestow from the fire department and the village."

Mayor Tom Bell thanked James and, with fire commissioner Jack Deshler, presented him with a Certificate of Merit on behalf of the board of fire commissioners for his quick thinking and brave action.

Graziano then presented James with his department's Civilian Service Award and "a citation for your actions that day, a very small token of our appreciation.”

Police detective Mark Vukusanovich then presented James with his department's Life Saving Award, which he had created himself.

"You were pretty awesome that day," Vukusanovich. "You saved me a lot of work by saving a lot of lives.”

Much applause followed from the large audience, which included James’ wife, Elena, and their five children, accompanied by much hand shaking, thank-you's, and well-wishes.

Related stories

Please see these related stories at

"Meet Torrey M. James, hero of the Whispering Hills fire"

"Fire chief: Whispering Hills fire originated in illegal garage bedroom"

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