Unicoi County deputies entered a burning home, located on 1137 N. Buffalo St., located near the Canah Chapel community, early Thursday morning. (Brad Hicks/Johnson City Press)
ERWIN — Two deputies with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department were continuing to recover from smoke inhalation Thursday afternoon after bursting into a home on fire early Thursday morning to search for residents who may have been trapped inside.
Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said a report of a residential fire at 1137 N. Buffalo St., located near the Canah Chapel community, came in about 4 a.m. Thursday.
Aside from crews with the Southside Volunteer Fire Department and emergency medical services personnel, Deputy Paul Osborne and Cpl. Eric Borchgrevink responded to the fire.
Hensley said the officers were familiar with the home’s residents and knew three children could be inside. Hensley said the two officers burst through the home’s front door to conduct their search.
The sheriff said the home had actually been vacated by the residents, and no one was home at the time of the fire. He said renovations were be completed on the home, and it is believed the home’s owner was there Wednesday evening to work on the house.
It is believed the blaze started when an electric heater located in a back room set nearby bedding on fire, Hensley said.
Hensley said Borchgrevink and Osborne were transported to the emergency room at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital due to smoke inhalation and for observation. Hensley said the officers remained in the hospital Thursday afternoon and are expected to make a full recovery.
“They seemed to be doing fine,” Hensley said Thursday afternoon.
The sheriff also commended the officers’ efforts for putting their lives on the line when they felt others could be in danger.
“They done an outstanding job. They really made me proud,” Hensley said. “Anytime you walk into a burning house like that, you never know what you’re walking into.”
Emergency crews also responded to a Thursday fire at a home on Masters Road in the Temple Hill area, Hensley said. He said the fire at this home was believed to have started in the kitchen, and the family there was awakened by their smoke detector and able to escape the home.
Hensley said it is important that those with chimneys in their homes have the chimneys cleaned and that every resident should have a smoke detector in their home.
“It’s crucial that everyone has a fire alarm, smoke detector,” he said. “It’s a proven fact that it saves lives.”