Watch: Tenn. police officer sprints into exploding home, rescues woman
"Timing was very much on my side that day," said Cpl. Allan Ervin
By Mike Christen
The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tenn.
COLUMBIA, Tenn. — As a fire swept through a Columbia home, Corporal Allan Ervin, the first emergency responder to arrive on the scene, ran into the home and brought the woman to safety.
Footage from Ervin's body camera, shared with the public by the Columbia Police Department on Tuesday, shows Ervin arriving at the Riverside home just as an explosion roars through the garage of the single-story house on Rinks Court.
The blast shot debris across the home's driveway, as Ervin, remained coolheaded and rushed to the front entrance of the home.
"As a police officer, the first thing you think of is the preservation of life, and fortunately, we were able to do that. We know the risks we take when we go out there. You just have to react and use your best judgment."
Erwin said he was quickly able to find the woman inside, who is disabled, and bring her to safety outside the burning home.
The spaces the two occupied moments earlier were engulfed in flames, he said, as the fire quickly spread through the home during the escape.
"Timing was very much on my side that day," Ervin said.
"We know the risks going in. In that moment, it is all about controlled chaos. That day the goal was to get everybody out, and we did it. I would depend on all the officers to do the same. This is a great police department here in Columbia."
Due to the condition of the rescued woman and the video's graphic nature, the department omitted some footage of the rescue.
Following Ervin's actions, the woman was transported by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with severe burns. She remains under critical care at the Nashville hospital for burns and smoke inhalation.
Responding firefighters said there were multiple explosions at the scene caused by medical oxygen tanks stored inside the home's garage, which ignited from the fire.
A wave of smoke covered the Riverside neighborhood as the fire spread through the home.
Ervin, who was driving along Columbia's Nashville Highway when he received the call, said he immediately called in for assistance as he saw the thick black smoke begin to plume over the neighborhood.
"As I approached the scene, I am trying to think two or three steps ahead," Erwin said.
In total, three people were transported to local hospitals after the fire swept through the home after 8 a.m. on Friday morning.
Fire Chief Ty Cobb said at least three oxygen tanks exploded at the scene as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.
No emergency responders were injured.
Ervin said the response was a success because of each agency's ability to cooperate with one another.
"Because of everybody's reaction and treatment of the situation, all were able to come out alive."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Columbia Fire Marshal's Office.
Ervin has served the Columbia Police Department for the past 12 years. He joined the department after leaving the U.S. Army, where he was deployed on two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005.
Ervin and his family moved to Maury County when he was in the fifth grade.
"This will hopefully be my first and last department," Ervin said.
(c)2021 The Daily Herald (Columbia, Tenn.)