Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

MARYVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – A pair of Maryville, Illinois police officers are being lauded for their quick actions in the wake of Wednesday’s massive explosions and fire from a ruptured gas line.

They’re identified as Officer Justin Krausz, who’s been with the department for four years, and Sgt. Brandon Ponce, a veteran with more than ten years on the force.

Krausz and Ponce were on the scene within moments of the eruption after a 10-inch gas main was pierced by construction equipment.

Maryville Police Chief Rob Carpenter says he has been hearing from citizens about his officers’ quick thinking and actions.

“Multiple witnesses have said that they felt that it was very heroic of the officers to be running that close to the flames,” Carpenter told KMOX News.

The two policemen helped construction worker John Behme of Worden get to his feet after he stumbled out of the fire zone and reached EMS workers.

“They helped him to his feet,” explained Carpenter. “He was still able to walk some. And they walked him to a safe area where he was subsequently handed over to emergency medical personnel.”

Behme, who reportedly suffered burns to more than 70% of his body, is in critical condition at the burn unit of Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur.

As for Officer Krausz and Sgt. Ponce, Chief Rob Carpenter says residents have been singing their praises.

“They deserve a medal, they’re heroes, their actions were above and beyond,” are among the things he’s heard about the two.

“Of course as the Police Chief I’m very proud to hear that,” Carpenter added.

He said commendations for the officers may be coming in the near future.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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