Note: This story was last updated at 1:25 p.m. Nov. 20.
Two Anderson County deputies and a Marlow firefighter rescued a woman who was seriously injured trying to rescue her pets from a house fire on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
The woman, who has not been identified, was taken by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and then flown by Lifestar helicopter to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, according to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Her condition and age weren’t immediately available.
The woman was pulled out of the burning home at 131 Ridge Lane by Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Wiley Maloney, Reserve Deputy Gene Rose, and Marlow Volunteer Fire Department Captain Zach Pressnell. Pressnell said the woman was conscious but lay on the floor about five feet inside the single-story home, with fire rolling out of the front door and heavy smoke inside.
“You couldn’t see,” said Steve Newby, deputy chief for the Claxton Volunteer Fire Department, describing the fire and smoke inside the ridge top home less than two miles east of Oak Ridge. “Even with our masks on, you had to feel your way around.”
Another woman had called 911 and was just outside the home when emergency responders arrived. That woman and the homeowner had come home with groceries and found the house on fire, said A.J. Harris, chief of the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department. The homeowner wanted to save her pets, which apparently include one animal not yet accounted for, and the woman was burned when she went back in and unable to get out, Harris said. The other woman called 911 twice, reporting the fire on the first call and reporting that the homeowner was stuck inside on the second.
Instinct and training kicked in when emergency responders arrived.
“We just want to help people,” Pressnell said. “You just do what you have to do.”
Harris said the other woman had tried to help the homeowner before rescuers arrived.
“She was yelling for her, trying to get her to come back outside,” he said.
Harris said the fire, which might have caused about $20,000 to $30,000 in damage, was mostly confined to the living room—where firefighters said everything was on fire, including a couch and blankets. There was smoke damage elsewhere, including in the kitchen. The fire was extinguished in about 20 to 30 minutes. Roughly 10 firefighters and two chiefs responded.
And the Sheriff’s Department played a crucial role in the initial rescue.
“The sheriff’s deputies…always go above and beyond,” Harris said.
Firefighters rescued a dog and a cat from the house, where the fire was reported just after 3 p.m. Wednesday. The dog, carried to safety in a firefighter’s vehicle and then to an animal hospital, would likely be okay, said Newby, who is also a veterinary technician and owns Clinton Animal Hospital and Norris Animal Hospital.
“It didn’t want me to let it go,” he said.
The cat, which was found in the other end of the house and given high-pressure oxygen by firefighters, would probably be okay, although it had experienced respiratory distress, Newby said.
Harris warned residents to never enter a home that is on fire.
“You don’t ever want to go inside for any reason,” Harris said. Instead, call 911, he said.
The cause of the fire, which was put out with the help of several fire departments, including Oak Ridge’s, is being investigated by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.
Several departments responded, including the Marlow and Claxton Volunteer Fire Departments and Oak Ridge Fire Department. So did the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department and Anderson County Emergency Medical Services.
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