GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – A family of 10 is safe and sound thanks in no small part to assertive Gallatin police officers and firefighters responding to a fully-engulfed house fire.
Officials said everything went right thanks to the coordinated effort between police and fire units and the quick arrival time of the first Gallatin police officers.
The fire started just before 3 a.m. Wednesday morning as the back of a home on Harper Dean Way went up in flames.
Christian Blizzard and Valerie Mejia were the first two officers on scene and quickly began knocking on doors and windows, alerting residents in the area to get out as the home’s siding was beginning to melt.
The officers were wearing body cameras and the footage captured showed their quick thinking and heroic actions.
The two adults and eight children inside the burning home were able to escape on their own, allowing the officers time to go door to door to alert the neighbors.
On body camera footage, you can hear the fire engines’ sirens approaching in the distance. Despite this, the officers continued knocking on doors and even made sure the fire hydrants a distance from the house were clearly illuminated for arriving firefighters.
“They made our job a whole lot easier by having the area already secured, where we could easily get in. They had a fire hydrant spotted and they were actually evacuating people from the left and right side exposures of the house, which would be the nextdoor neighbors’ houses,” Fire Chief Jeff Beaman said.
Mejia not only got a father and daughter to safety, but also put a leash on their dog and saved him.
Beaman said with the police officers’ help, firefighters could concentrate on quickly knocking down the blaze, mostly attacking it from the back of the structure.
According to Beaman, fire spreading to nearby homes is always a concern, and the home to the right of the burning structure did have extensive vinyl melting.
While firefighters knocked down the blaze, Mejia continued to protect and serve, showing compassion for a little girl and her family who were obviously distraught by the early morning wake up call to flames and fire trucks.
“The two officers that responded, we’ve got them up for accommodations. They did a tremendous job putting all the effort together to get everybody out and comfort everybody that was there at the scene, and like you said, they were even able to get the pets,” said Capt. Lamar Ballard with the Gallatin Police Department.
Ballard said the officers are trained to handle these high stress situations. He praised the cohesiveness of fire and police units working together.
In the end, no pets or people were hurt.
Fire investigators said the fire was not suspicious and probably started from a backyard grill that had been used the night before.
If you would like to donate to the family whose home was damaged in the fire, check out this GoFundMe page.