CUNNINGHAM – Three Fluvanna County Sheriff’s deputies battled heavy smoke and flames Tuesday morning to rescue an elderly, incapacitated county resident from a burning home and shortly thereafter wound up arresting another resident for public intoxication.
The rescue and drama began when deputies received a 911 call for a structure fire with someone trapped in the building around 5:30 a.m.. They arrived at the home on Old Fork Lane to find heavy smoke coming from residence.
“The first arriving deputy attempted to enter the residence and was able to make entry through the front door. As soon as the door was opened, heavy smoke was encountered,” Lt. Aaron Hurd, of the sheriff’s office Criminal Investigations Section said. “Because of the heavy smoke, the deputies had to make multiple entries before the 83-year-old, immobile resident was able to be accessed and removed from the residence.”
The deputies helped with first aid and went back into the home after learning that another resident was unaccounted for and could be inside the burning building.
“The responding deputies re-entered the residence multiple times to search for any other occupants [but] no other occupants were located inside,” Hurd said. “They completed the extrication and search shortly before the residence became engulfed in flames.”
The rescue efforts left the trio suffering from smoke inhalation but before they could be treated at the scene, they were asked to respond a report of someone in the traffic lanes of nearby Shores Road.
“There they encountered a highly intoxicated adult male and while taking the male into custody, two of the deputies were assaulted,” Hurd said. “It is believed that this [man] may have been the other individual originally reported to have been in the residence.”
Deputies arrested the man, identified as Justin Anthony Skeen, 32, of Palmyra. Hurd said the man’s actions and his arrest are unrelated to the fire.
Rescue squads from Fluvanna Rescue, Lake Monticello Rescue, and Albemarle County Fire Rescue responded to the blaze with firefighters from Palmyra, Fork Union, Kent’s Store, Lake Monticello, and Scottsville fire departments.
The 83-year-old resident and the three deputies were taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation.
“The residence appears to be a total loss and the American Red Cross has been engaged to support the displaced family,” Hurd said. “The three deputies have thankfully been released from the medical center and are still recovering.”
Hurd said the cause of the fire is being investigated.
“The sheriff and staff of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office are extremely proud of the selfless and heroic actions of the responding deputies,” Hurd said.