MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) — A Hamblen County firefighter jumped to the aid of a woman, stuck in her home when a fire sparked.
The fire took place over the weekend at the home of a Hamblen County Sheriff’s Lieutenant. His mom was in the house and wasn’t able to get out on her own. Austin Rutherford, a firefighter with the Morristown Fire Department, just happened to be in the area at the time.
“We were at church on Sunday night, and after church let out one of the members came and got me and said the house behind the church was on fire,” said Rutherford.
His instincts kicked in. He said just after he walked around the house to try to find a way in, the West Hamblen County Volunteer Fire Department arrived.
“You could see flames coming out of the bedroom where they believed that she was whenever the fire started,” Rutherford said.
West Hamblen VFD had just enough firefighters to focus on the flames. Rutherford said he grabbed some of their gear and ran into the home to find the woman.
“I saw her on the floor,” he explained. “So at that point, I hollered out that I had her and pulled her into the hallway. Once I pulled her into the hallway, I was able to get her and drag her to the front door where EMS was able to get her.”
What he didn’t know at the time was the woman was Pam McElhaney, the mother of Hamblen County Deputy Lieutenant Eddie Hefner, who has been with the sheriff’s office for over 25 years.
Eric Harrison, a longtime family friend of Hefner, said, “She realized there was a fire, she got on the floor and was able to crawl out of the bedroom, they found her in an adjacent bedroom, but they flew her down to Vanderbilt to the burn unit down there. It was really touch and go for a while.”
Harrison said McElhaney is recovering but will be in the hospital for a while. Their home looks to be a total loss.
Many have already stepped in to help by creating a GoFundMe and planning other community fundraisers.
“They are going to have a chili supper on November 9 at the West Hamblen County Fire Department down on AJ Highway in Talbott,” said Harrison.
He added that Hefner has been overwhelmed with the amount of support they’ve received and is thankful his mom is okay. Rutherford said he was glad he was at the right place at the right time.
“The Lord has you exactly where he wants you. That’s all I know. He had me exactly where he wanted me and just used me like he should,” he said.
If you would like to make a donation to the GoFundMe, click here. You can also send a check, made payable to Eddie Hefner, to the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police at 225 W. 3rd N. Street, Morristown, TN 37814.
Rutherford was also recently spotlighted for climbing down into a sinkhole to rescue a dog that had fallen into it.