Three city police officers suffered burns, including one officer having to be taken to the Vanderbilt Burn Unit, in the fire on Sunday night on Eldridge Road in Hixson.
A man who fire officials said set the blaze was listed in critical condition. He was charged with arson. Fire Chief Phillip Hyman said the man was taken to a burn unit out of state and would be extradited back here to face criminal charges.
A friend of one of the officers involved said in a Facebook post that they were after a burglary suspect at the time, and the suspect set the fire "to try to kill the officers."
Mariah Phillips wrote, "Joe (Kerns) had a very scary encounter tonight on duty. A suspect from a burglary used an accelerant and lit a home on fire with three officers inside to attempt to kill them.
"Joe was inside. He suffered first-degree burns to his face and severe smoke inhalation which burned his throat. He is still vomiting black soot, but his oxygen is much improved. He had angels surrounding him for sure."
She said Officer Britton Virden was expected to make a full recovery within several weeks.
Burglary detective Michael Woodling had to be taken to the burn center in Nashville.
Police officials said, "CPD was out with a burglary suspect who took off, running into a unit of the duplex. Officers cleared the other side of the duplex, tried to get the suspect to come from the side he entered, and were writing up a search warrant when one of the officers noticed smoke inside the unit.
"The officers knew the suspect was in there, but it was not known if anyone else was in the burning unit. Two patrol officers and one burglary investigator made entry. All three made it out, but all suffered injuries - one taken to Vandy's burn center for treatment. All three have been released from hospitals and are recovering."
Police Asst. Chief Danna Vaughn said police were working on a burglary case and they detained two individuals, but a third ran into the duplex and started the fire.
Chief David Roddy was it was "an extremely quickly evolving and degrading situation. The house was engulfed very quickly."
He said the police officers involved acted to try to save the person who had set the fire as well as to rescue one another.
Chief Roddy said, "It could have been much worse."
The incident happened at 9:10 p.m. in the 5100 block of Eldridge Road.
Fire officials said, "There were reports of possible entrapment in the residential blaze so a second alarm was called to bring additional units to the scene.
"When crews arrived, there was heavy fire coming out of the front of the unit on the left side of the duplex.They also found flames in the basement. Firefighters attacked the fire and conducted searches simultaneously on the first floor and in the basement.They found one person in the basement and pulled him out. He was taken to the hospital."
The fire was out by 10 p.m.