Cumberland deputy pulls pets, holiday gifts from burning home
Posted December 17, 2010 5:33 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2010 6:30 p.m. EST
Stedman, N.C. — An off-duty Cumberland County deputy saved Christmas for a Stedman family Thursday when he rushed into their burning home to rescue their pets and salvage some of their holiday presents.
"They went above and beyond the call of duty. I cannot say enough about our public servants," homeowner Allen Pier said Friday.
Pier said his wife called him shortly after 7:30 p.m. Thursday to report that their home, at 5348 Clinton Road, was on fire. So, he sped toward home and zoomed past Sgt. Tatum Buckley, who was on his way home.
"I knew something was wrong, but he (was) going the opposite way of the hospital, so I couldn't figure it out," Buckley said.
The deputy turned on his blue lights and pulled Pier over.
"As soon as I get out of the car, he sticks his arm out the window," Buckley said, noting Pier explained why he was speeding home.
"I said, 'You can go, but you can't run 90 miles per hour down the highway,'" Buckley said.
By the time the two reached Pier's home, it was engulfed in flames, and Pier's wife was trying to get inside to save the family's pets and Christmas presents.
"They were trying to get her to get back, and I said, 'I'll make a deal with you. If you get back and get out the way, I'll try and find the dogs,'" Buckley said.
He ran inside the house, which had a full tank of kerosene sitting nearby, and managed to save a dog, three cats and some gifts.
"Looking back on it now, was it real smart going into a house that's on fire? I don't know, but I felt I'd be OK," Buckley said. "I didn't go upstairs. I think I stayed within my limitations, and I did what I guess anybody else would've done."
The cause of the fire, which left the home and a pickup truck in ruins, remains under investigation. Despite his loss, Pier said that Buckley gave his family the best holiday present possible.
"For losing your house this close to Christmas, it turned out to be good because the family was safe," he said.