Local News

'Instinct' led Raleigh police officer into burning building

Posted January 27, 2013

— A Raleigh police officer says instinct sprung him to action Friday afternoon as a blaze spread through a Raleigh apartment building while fire crews – hindered by winter weather and slick roads – made their way to the scene.

Raleigh apartment fire Raleigh apartment fire

Timothy Hathaway, a three-year police officer with the Raleigh Police Department, was the first emergency responder to arrive at Mission Valley Apartments, near North Carolina State University, after a fire started in a ground-floor unit around 4 p.m. Friday.

Normally, police officers wait for fire crews to get the fire under control, but hearing that there were people trapped inside, Hathaway, who was a volunteer firefighter in high school, jumped out of his car, grabbed his gas mask and headed inside the smoke-filled building.

"I just figured there was a job that needed to be done, and I'd do my best to do something," he said Sunday.

Once inside, Hathaway knocked on doors, tried handles and, if no one answered, made his way into the units to make sure no one was inside.

Raleigh police officer Timothy Hathaway Raleigh officer springs into action after apartment blaze

"It's definitely not something I've gotten to do before," he said. "It's definitely a new experience."

Seven people, including Hathaway, were taken to local hospitals for smoke inhalation, but there were no other reports of injuries.

Residents, like Eamon Frier, say they are thankful for his quick-thinking, saying that, had it not been for him, they might not have known about the fire.

"He put his gas mask on, and he went in, and, by what I hear, he got a few people out of there," Frier said.

Investigators blame the fire on a resident who was smoking in bed. Sixteen units were destroyed.

16 Comments

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  • Tug Boat II Jan 29, 8:27 a.m.

    I hope they give him a little something extra in his paycheck. you can't put a price on a human life. Thank you officer!

  • Barfly Jan 28, 7:10 p.m.

    "I guess if this officer did something wrong, there would be 300 comments for him to be fired....he SAVED LIVES and there is 11.....wow. Great job officer! You showed that there are good officers serving the communities around here." johnny2times

    Liberals can't stand courage because they'd never knowingly put their lives in harm's way to save someone in trouble.

  • jblake1932 Jan 28, 6:56 p.m.

    Ok, good deed. Now quit glowing and get back to work and the media will drop the article eventually.

  • johnny2times Jan 28, 5:31 p.m.

    This is what a TRUE hero is....not a sports figure.

  • johnny2times Jan 28, 5:30 p.m.

    I guess if this officer did something wrong, there would be 300 comments for him to be fired....he SAVED LIVES and there is 11.....wow. Great job officer! You showed that there are good officers serving the communities around here.

  • Moose is loose Jan 28, 4:19 p.m.

    This is what a HERO looks like !!!!

  • whyalltheproblems Jan 28, 3:52 p.m.

    That is Awesome. Hans, you try it.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 28, 3:19 p.m.

    "Hmmm.. sounds kinda fishy to me. I'd be investigating this dude heavily." - Hans


    Who's that trip-trapping on my bridge?!

  • North Carolina Cutie Jan 28, 2:29 p.m.

    Good job!

  • subanitov Jan 28, 1:00 p.m.

    "Hmmm.. sounds kinda fishy to me. I'd be investigating this dude heavily." Hans

    Perhaps it "sounds fishy" because you would never have the courage to do what the officer did?

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