Police Officer Helps Man Escape House Fire Friday Morning

Friday, February 07, 2014
Engine 4 sits in front of the house where the fire occurred. The fire damage was limited to the kitchen area.
Engine 4 sits in front of the house where the fire occurred. The fire damage was limited to the kitchen area.
- photo by Bruce Garner

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire Friday morning, thanks in part to the quick actions of a Chattanooga police officer and a good Samaritan. 

When someone called 911 Communications at 9:06 a.m. to report a house fire at 2902 North Chamberlain Ave., Chattanooga firefighters and police officers responded. CPD Patrol Officer Tyrone Williams was the first on the scene. Officer Williams said an unidentified woman was on the front porch when he arrived and she informed him that a man was still inside the house.

Officer Williams said he went inside and saw a man in a wheelchair in the front living room. He could also see flames in the kitchen and thick, black smoke was quickly filling the house. Officer Williams said the man in the wheelchair, Denver Joe McMath, did not want to leave the house without his crutches, but the officer insisted. As he pushed the wheelchair to the front door, the unidentified woman was still there and she helped the officer get the wheelchair out onto the porch.

By then, Chattanooga firefighters arrived on the scene and made sure everyone else was out of the structure. Two people were also in part of the house that had been converted into an apartment. Both got out safely.

Lt. Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said the firefighters took in handheld hoselines and quickly extinguished the flames, containing the fire damage to the kitchen area. The rest of the house had some smoke damage.

The cause of the fire appears to be accidental. Lt. Suttles said Mr. McMath was cooking something on the stove and evidently left it unattended for a period of time. By the time he returned, a fire had broken out on the stove and spread to the cabinets above.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee were called in to provide assistance to the fire victims. Hamilton County EMS and EPB also provided valuable assistance on the scene. The identity of the good Samaritan was not determined.

Lt. Wadie Suttles talks with Mr. McMath to get information and check on his condition.
Lt. Wadie Suttles talks with Mr. McMath to get information and check on his condition.
- Photo2 by Bruce Garner

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