KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville firefighter remains in the ICU after collapsing outside a burning home. Capt. Mark Lacey suffered a heart attack Tuesday night at the scene of a New Year's Eve house fire.
The home on Dandyline Drive in East Knoxville was engulfed in smoke and flames when crews arrived. The one person inside was able to get out safely.
Fire officials say Lacey is in stable, but guarded condition. He's still unconscious because doctors are using therapeutic hypothermia. That's when the patient's body temperature is cooled down in an effort to minimize brain damage. It may take a couple of days to know the results, but while they wait, Capt. Lacey's family has a lot of support standing by them.
"It's a brotherhood. You just can't break that," said Knoxville Fire Captain D.J. Corcoran.
He spent most of Tuesday night at the hospital along with dozens of fellow firefighters.
"Mark is an excellent guy. Good father, good husband, great firefighter. Type of guy that if you called him and asked him to do anything, he'd stop what he's doing to help you," Capt. Corcoran said.
Capt. Lacey's fire station is less than a mile away from the home that caught fire. He was one of the first on the scene.
"They were making an aggressive interior attack and then they were pulled out because of conditions the incident commander could see overhead," Capt. Corcoran said.
That's when Capt. Lacey collapsed. Capt. Corcoran says heart attacks are a leading cause of death for firefighters.
"We're being woke up in the middle of the night sometimes, going from a resting position to 60 miles an hour and your heart, the adrenaline is pumping," he said.
Luckily, Capt. Lacey was in excellent hands.
"We was surrounded by brothers that love him, paramedics and EMTs. We have a Rural/Metro ambulance on scene at all our working fires so he got immediate care and quick transport to UT hospital," Capt. Corcoran said.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. Billy Macklin was home at the time. He heard an explosion in his bedroom.
"I went and got the fire extinguisher and tried to put it out, but I just couldn't fight it," Macklin said.
He's grateful for all the firefighters who worked to save his home and he hopes Capt. Lacey will make a full recovery.
"Thank you for trying to help me. I'm sorry this happened to you," Macklin said.
Capt. Lacey is a 20 year veteran of the Knoxville Fire Department.