(North Carolina) -
Shortly before 4 a.m. on December 28, 2013 Nash County NC Fire Units from Spring Hope, Momeyer and Stan Hope were dispatched to 109 North Side Drive in Spring Hope. According to Nash County Deputy Fire Marshal Chris Bissette the next store neighbor at 110 North Side Drive was awaken by a smoke alarm going off and his apartment was filling up with smoke. The neighbor called 911 to report the fire and then went next door to try and alert the victim but was unsuccessful. He found the apartment full of smoke and a glow from the kitchen area. A Spring Hope police officer was now on location and was told by the neighbor that an adult male lived in the apartment where the fire was located. He knew this because his car was still parked in the driveway. The police officer was unable to enter the burning apartment due to heavy fire and smoke condition. Spring Hope fire department first due engine was now arriving along with Momeyer fire department. Heavy smoke and flames were now visible as flames were showing in the rear of the apartment building and heavy black smoke coming out the front. A 1-¾ inch water line was quickly placed in service as fire fighters made forced entry through the front door.
Fire Fighter Chris Chappel of Spring Hope and Captain Rance Manning of Momeyer along with Assistant Chief J.R. Manning of Momeyer and fire fighter Tyler Hinton of Momeyer made entry into the heavy dense black smoke and fire. According to Spring Hope Fire Chief David Shelton the apartment had a front bedroom and a bathroom separating the rear bedroom and a large living room and kitchen. Most of the rear of the interior was fully involved and flames were spreading up into the front of the apartment. Fire fighters were able to make a quick knock down of the flames and dark smoke as they entered the front door fire fighter Chris Chappel, a five year veteran found the front bedroom door closed and was able to get door open and crawled into the thick smoke filled room and begin to searched for the occupant. He found a 48-year-old male who weighed over 200 pounds laying on the floor near the front bedroom window. He was unable to lift the man by himself due to his weight and quickly alerted the other fire fighters on the hose line that he had a victim and needed help to remove him.
Captain Rance Manning, an eleven year veteran of the fire service, and Assistant Chief J.R. Manning a thirteen year veteran went to assist him. As this was being done fire fighter Tyler Hinton stayed on the hose line attacking the fire. Holding the flames back as the three fire fighters removed the severely burned victim from the burning apartment.
Two Nash County EMS Units were now arriving on location and were waiting on the front lawn when fire fighters brought the victim out of the burning apartment.
EMS transported the victim to Nash General Hospital and he was then flown to Chapel Hill Burn Center. As this was happening a neighbor informed Spring Hope fire fighter Gene Carlyle that there could possibly be a female with small children in the rear bedroom. He had seen them a couple days before. This was quickly relayed to the attack crew that was still fighting the fire inside. They were able to make their way into the rear bedroom but the search turned out negative for the other people.
According to Chief Shelton the woman and her children were away during the Christmas Holiday visiting family. He said, that it was a miracle that they were not there, as they probably would not have made it out of the apartment with the amount of fire and smoke that was in the rear of the apartment.
According to Fire Marshal Bissette the burned victim had received severe burns from the waist up and smoke inhalation and he is in critical but stable condition and apparently will survive due to the quick action of the fire fighters.
Spring Hope fire chief had high praise for the fire fighters and gave credit to the team work and fire training that they received. He said, that his company had handled over 800 call this year including 199 fire calls. He said, that they also saved the lives of two people on EMS calls and credited other fire companies for all their assistance.
According to Fire Marshal Bissette they did a thorough investigation the next morning and it appears that the fire started in the washing machine in the rear of the apartment. The exposure apartment next door received smoke and some water damage. Over twenty-five fire fighters were on location along with two EMS Units and eight pieces of equipment. There were no other injuries other than the one burned victim. The exposure apartment next door received smoke and some water damage. The Red Cross was call to assist the occupants of the apartment.
Photos by Spring Hope FD and Bob Bartosz
Written by Bob Bartosz