Two Whiteville firefighters hauled a wheelchair-bound man from his burning apartment Saturday night.
WFD Captain J.D. Batchelor and Captain Kyle McDaniel were among the personnel responding to Covey Reserve Apartment shortly after 8 p.m. when a fire alarm was activated in one of the apartments, Fire Marshal Hal Lowder said.
Batchelor and McDaniel discovered that one of the apartment’s sprinkler systems had been activated. The firefighters made entry and found heavy smoke inside the unit. While they were searching the apartment, Lowder said, they heard the resident in one of the rooms.
“Captain Batchelor and McDaniel found the resident in a wheelchair and pulled the resident to safety,” Lowder said in a press release.
The victim was transported to a local hospital, and is recovering.
Lowder stated that while the sprinklers did their job in containing the fire, smoke and toxic gases cause the majority of fatalities, not the flames.
“At the time, the resident was not making an attempt to escape, and was in a wheelchair,” he said. “The firefighters had to make entry into the apartment under heavy smoke conditions to make the rescue.
“Most of the smoke from this fire was coming from synthetic materials, foam and plastic which basically produce poison gas.”
Lowder also pointed out that sprinklers and automatic fire doors contributed to keeping the fire from spreading to other sections of the building.
“No call is routine,” Lowder said. “We always consider every structure occupied, even vacant ones. A structure isn’t clear until we search it. This is the outcome our citizen expect from us — when they are having their worst day, they depend on us to get them through it. That is customer service.” Lowder stated.
“It is a team effort. These guys could not make the save without help from the other guys on the crew, Firefighters Dean Tyson and Jeremy Hooks.”
Lowder said the fire was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.