UPDATE: KFD Captain DJ Corcoran says the resident hospitalized following the fire has died from his injuries.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A resident and two Knoxville police officers were taken to the hospital after a fire at an East Knoxville apartment complex Monday afternoon.
The call was reported around 4:50 p.m. at Austin Homes at the intersection of W. New Street and S. Bell Street.
Knoxville Fire Department spokesperson Capt. DJ Corcoran says police officers were the first on scene and went into the burning apartment to try to rescue a man stuck inside but were unable.
Officers attempted to force entry into the front and rear of the apartment. With the help of an unknown bystander, officers pushed in a window air conditioning unit.
KPD Officer Nathaniel Sanders was then able to reach through the rear window and locate the male victim in close proximity to the window. The officers attempted to pull the victim from the apartment but were pushed back by heat and smoke.
Fire crews then arrived on scene and were able to get the man out of the hospital. He was taken to the hospital for heavy smoke inhalation.
KPD officers DeBow and Patton also drove themselves to the hospital to be checked out for smoke inhalation. Debow was released shortly after her arrival, while Patton was kept overnight for further evaluation.
“I commend our officers for the courage they showed and the swiftness of their actions yesterday, ” KPD Chief of Police Eve Thomas said. “Though they do not see their response as extraordinary, those officers went above and beyond the line of duty, and never hesitated to put themselves in harm’s way.”
The fire was determined to have started near or around an air conditioning window unit. Fire crews were still on scene as of 5:30 p.m. Monday.