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Residents Credit Officer With Saving Lives

Posted March 15, 2007

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— An early morning fire at a southeast Raleigh triplex killed one man, but a police officer awakened several other residents to help them escape the flames.

Residents at 1113 Upchurch Street got a frightening wake-up call as fire trucks descended upon their apartments at about 4 a.m.

Sgt. M.A. McKee, a 19-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department, smelled smoke while on routine patrol. He investigated, discovered smoke coming from an attic vent and went door-to-door to alertg tenants and evacuate the building.

Mikea Woody said she was able to get her four children and nephew out safely after being awakened by McKee.

“If that cop didn't knock on our door, all of us could have been gone right about now,” Woody said. “This is unusual for a cop just to come by. This just doesn't happen, not that time in the morning anyway. Nobody but God (would come by).”

Redell Jones said she grabbed her 4-year-old son, his birth certificate and some family photographs.

“I am so glad he was here. I want to tell him thank you so much for coming to my door,” Jones said. “We all owe him our lives, all of us.

McKee declined to be interviewed, saying through a police spokesman that he was "just doing his job."

“He is very grateful that he was down there at the right point, at the right time, to be able to do what he did,” Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

Michael Jameson Gunter, 29, died at WakeMed after firefighters pulled him from the apartment in the triplex where the fire started, police said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, although the preliminary investigation points to the fire starting in Gunter's kitchen.

The owner of the property, Steve Edwards of E & E Management, said working smoke detectors were installed in each unit.

21 Comments

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  • At Work Mar 17, 2007

    Another point like cmuffinberry@hotmail.com made if the cop smelled the smoke why were the "working" fire alarms not going off and waking everyone up. Like most apartments that I have lived in they have them installed but they (apt managers, maintence)fail to check them. Granted its our apt. we should but you have people like elderly people that cant climb a chair to check it.

  • Juliett Mar 16, 2007

    A true hero. It is so good to see a police officer applauded for his actions.

  • Friend Mar 16, 2007

    Nice job Sgt. McKee.

  • eastof raliegh Mar 16, 2007

    Hooray for Sgt McKee. It was nice to see a good news stiry of a life saving police officer. It was sad to see someone perished. It is possibe that the smoke detectors required by law (in all rental dwellings)were not in place or working? I hope that OSHA doesnt see the picture of the fireman exiting the clearly burning apartment without his helmet, gloves or SCBA while leaving another person inside the doorway !!

  • cmuffinberry Mar 16, 2007

    While it is great that several people escaped this fire, I am baffled as to why none of the residents smelled smoke prior to the officer knocking on the doors. He could smell the smoke from the road in his patrol car but they could not smell smoke from their apartments? I would also like to see more coverage on the victim and the find out the actual cause of the fire.

  • plcj Mar 16, 2007

    That was supposed to be officer and WRAL I hope the police officer will read the comments here to see how people responded to his duty.

  • plcj Mar 16, 2007

    Just as with all of the terrible articles we read about bad people doing horrible things and some ask WHERE WAS YOUR GOD. Well, He was right here this night, with these people and this office. I say Thank you to GOD and to this police officer for doing his job.

  • NCCowgirlUp Mar 16, 2007

    Sgt. McKee, many thanks to you! Bless you!!

  • Joy4u2 Mar 16, 2007

    Thank RPD Sgt Mckee, You are a Angel and good work, God bless you and your family.

  • nc_copper1993 Mar 16, 2007

    hey man, good job ! way to go, it's also nice for us to get some good press from time to time. class act with the "just doing my job " comment. stay safe sgt. to sgt.

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