A Tennessee police officer is being recognized as a hero for rushing into an explosive house fire to rescue a disabled woman on the morning of July 9. The daring rescue was recorded on the officer’s body camera.
In the dramatic footage, Corporal Allan Ervin of the Columbia Police Department can be seen rushing into the Riverside neighborhood home after its windows were shattered by an explosive ball of fire coming from the inside.
In a Facebook post from the department, police said that Ervin located the disabled woman and carried her to safety. The footage released to the public was cut short due to the graphic nature of the content and the severe condition of the woman.
“As a police officer, the first thing you think of is the preservation of life, and fortunately, we were able to do that,” Ervin said. “We know the risks we take when we go out there. You just have to react and use your best judgment.”
Columbia Fire and Rescue said that the multiple explosions were due to oxygen tanks bursting in the fire. The initial cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Callie Braden, a neighbor who has lived next door to the family for over 15 years, gave her side of the story.
“I heard a boom. A loud explosion,” she told News 2, adding that she normally brings food to the family multiple times per week, and was about to make a delivery when she heard the blast.
“Every time I look over and think, thank God. I usually go over there every Tuesday evening or Friday lunchtime to bring them food and I said, ‘Lord, you spared me. You knew what was on the other side of the walls there, and I didn’t.’ I was just praying, ‘Lord, did they get out?’ Because it was so explosive.”
Neighbors explained that the rescued 37-year-old woman is “non-communicative” and “severely disabled” and would not have been able to escape on her own. She lives at the home with her mother and father. Her parents escaped the inferno but were prevented from going back inside due to the explosions.
The woman was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital in critical condition for burns and smoke inhalation, according to police.
Ervin and other first responders did not suffer any injuries.
Columbia Deputy Fire Chief Nick Brown praised the officer’s heroic actions that day and said that the incident was an example of the great partnership between police and fire departments.
“He is limited in some of the things he can do, but one of the things he can do is locate the victim safely, pull that victim out. With him doing that, it probably saved this woman’s life,” Brown said of Ervin.
“Fire personnel arrived on scene, and they had several challenges. The first is a house on fire and oxygen cylinders, with multiple explosions, and then patient care,” Brown continued. “This shows a great partnership between Columbia Fire and Rescue and Columbia Police, and it is a great example of both departments working together for one common goal, and that goal is life safety.”