Roanoke Rapids, N.C. — Hours before he was scheduled to begin working for the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department, an 18-year-old firefighter helped pull two children from a burning home early Tuesday, authorities said.
A neighbor reported that the house at 115 Blue Water Court was on fire shortly before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said. Three trucks and 18 firefighters responded to the fire, and they found flames coming through the roof as they arrived, authorities said.
Ray and Amy Poole escaped the house, but Amy Poole was screaming to firefighters as they arrived that her children were still inside, authorities said. The family was sleeping on the first floor of the two-story home because their air-conditioner wasn't working, but the parents couldn't find the children in the thick smoke, authorities said.
Firefighters Nick Hite and Chris Clements of the Davie Volunteer Fire Department went in the house and rescued a 10-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, authorities said.
Hite recently earned a full-time job with the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department, which also responded to the fire, and was to start his first shift with the department at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Clements said he lives near the scene of the fire and his children play with the children he rescued.
"I only had to drive a block, and I thought, 'Good gracious, I know these people. Whoever they are, I know them,'" he said. "It turns out I did know them. It's people I work with and our kids are growing up together."
The family was taken to Halifax Regional Medical Center, where the parents were treated and released.
The children were then airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment for smoke inhalation. They were alert and talking Tuesday morning and were listed in fair condition Tuesday evening.
The fire was brought under control in 30 minutes, but the second story of the house was destroyed, authorities said.
Authorities haven't determined the cause of the fire, but they said it started on the second floor.