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1 Death, Multiple Injuries Caused By House Fire

Posted at 11:09 AM, Apr 06, 2016

A late night house fire claimed the life of one person and injured an officer and a resident.

Authorities said the fire happened just after 11 p.m. Tuesday at a home in a northwestern neighborhood of Cookeville.

Initial reports said a woman was trapped inside the home.

Officials got to the scene in less than three minutes, and two officers, including Lieutenant Mitch Harrington, with the Cookeville Police Department went into the home and became disoriented in the thick black smoke.

“Officer Farley and Lt. Harrington were in front of me," said Officer Shane Livingston. "We all got there about the same time. They ran to the front door, and the whole front of the house was on fire.”

Two more officers were forcing open the front door that had closed behind the first two officials when an explosion caused debris to fall on them.

“Lt. Harrington had collapsed on the ground right in front of me. He very calmly said, 'I’m on fire. Get me out of here,'” Livingston said. “Grabbed his vest, pulled him to the back door.”

Another officer forced open the rear door allowing one of the trapped officers to escape.

Harrington was pulled from the home by officers and fire fighters when they arrived on scene.

“He’s a hero, he went through the flaming front door. He just got trapped inside. He’s who we followed,” Livingston said about Harrington.

The woman who had been trapped inside was also found and taken out of the home by fire fighters.

Authorities said when the fire was out, a man’s body was found inside. The deceased man had not yet been identified.

Officials said the investigation was ongoing.

“I feel very pleased that we have coworkers that are willing to put themselves at risk, not just for other citizens but for our officers as well, and there’s absolutely no doubt that’s exactly what this officer did,” said Captain Carl Sells, of the Cookeville Police Department.

Investigators said the fire did not appear to be caused by criminal activity.

Both the female resident and Lieutenant Harrington were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment of their injuries.

Multiple officers and a firefighter were treated for smoke inhalation at the Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Wednesday, the Cookeville Police Department released the following statement on social media:

"We want to thank everyone for their prayers, positive comments, support, and concern for our officers and everyone involved in last night’s fire incident.

We greatly appreciate all of the individuals and agencies that are reaching out to us during this time of crisis.

We are grateful to serve and live in a community that cares about one another and supports each other during difficult times.

We truly appreciate all of your prayers. We ask that you continue to keep Lt. Mitch Harrington and his family in your prayers along with the officers, firefighters, and paramedics who were at the scene last night. We also ask that you keep the family of the victims in your thoughts and prayers."