"The smoke was extremely heavy coming out."
Michael Nichols described how he saw thick, black smoke pouring from a home on West Middle Turnpike as he was driving his wife to work Tuesday morning.
"I went to the front door started banging on that. Then I went to side of the house where smoke was coming out and started banging on the window and I was getting no answers," Nichols said.
That's when he used his cell phone to call 911.
"The fire department arrived about three minutes later and forced entry into the home and found four members of a family sleeping on the second floor, unaware that anything was going on in the house," Manchester Fire Chief Robert Bycholski said.
After getting the family out, firefighters found a faulty oil burner in the basement of the home.
"The malfunction had caused enormous amounts of smoke in the basement, and with that smoke a tremendous amount of carbon monoxide, especially in the basement -- 1,000 parts per million in the basement," Chief Bycholski said.
The fire chief says that level can be deadly. Fortunately, readings on the second floor weren't as high, but a four year old girl, her parents and her grandmother were all taken to the hospital to be checked out.
The parents answered the door later Tuesday night. They didn't want to be identified but said they were grateful for Nichols coming to their rescue.
"We thank him for letting the fire department know they can come help us out," the husband said.
"It was a dangerous situation," Chief Bycholski said. "I would say that the family was very fortunate to have gotten out of the house and owe a debt of gratitude to the corrections officer that made that find."
Michael Nichols says he would do it again, but hopes he never has to.
"I think they'd be smart now to get a carbon monoxide detector in the house," Nichols said.
Fire Chief Bycholski says unless you use electricity to heat your house, you should have a carbon monoxide detector.
He says Manchester firefighters have already responded to 22 confirmed carbon monoxide incidents so far this heating season. He hopes Tuesday's is the last.