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Two police officers who saved an elderly woman from a burning Tauranga house last night have been praised by the police commissioner.
Senior Constable Adrian Oldham and Constable Shane McCarthy "acted in the finest traditions of the New Zealand police", Commissioner Mike Bush said.
The two officers came to the rescue of the 77-year-old who collapsed from smoke inhalation as her Maranui St, Mt Maunganui, home went up in flames around her.
"We put victims at the centre of everything we do and these two police officers have demonstrated this through their selfless actions last night," said Mr Bush.
"Every day I see the outstanding work which the men of women of New Zealand Police undertake to keep people safe in their communities. Last night's rescue could not be a better demonstration of this."
He had spoken to both the men and thanked them for their brave rescue, he said.
"I wish them and the occupant of the house a speedy recovery from their ordeal."
Mr Oldham came across the burning single-storey house while on a routine patrol around 7pm last night.
He initially tried to get into the house through a ranch slider, but as the elderly woman attempted to unlock it, she collapsed and fell back into the smoke-filled room.
The officer unsuccessfully attempted to break the door, before smashing a window to get inside.
It was difficult to find the woman because thick, dark smoke had filled the room, police said. It was only on his second attempt that he found the woman lying on the floor, and pulled her to the window.
Mr McCarthy then arrived and helped his colleague lift the woman out through the smashed window to safety.
She was taken to Tauranga Hospital for treatment.
Mr Oldham, who was himself treated for smoke inhalation, will speak to media at a press conference tomorrow afternoon. Mr McCarthy has indicated he does not wish to speak to media, a police spokeswoman said.