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MCPD officer's quick thinking and electrician skills save house from fire

Jeff Bobo • May 21, 2018 at 7:15 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — Initially, Hawkins County Central Dispatch called on three fire departments to respond to the Mount Carmel home of Darby and Julie Patrick the afternoon of May 12, but moments later a fourth department was requested to assist.

Anyone listening to a police scanner at the time would have thought there was a major house fire on Valley Crest Drive in the Hammond Estates community.

But less than five minutes after the initial call, they were all told to "signal 9" — back down.

That's because Mount Carmel Police Department Officer Grady White, who was first on the scene, happens to possess the skills necessary to turn what could have been a devastating house fire into an inconvenient home repair.

At about 2 p.m. that day, Darby and Julie arrived home on Valley Crest Drive. The garage door wasn't open, so Julie went inside to open it and immediately smelled smoke.

When she entered the garage, there was smoke pouring out of the breaker box.

"I called 911, and it wasn't about 3-4 minutes later Grady showed up," Darby told the Times News. "He knew my address. He wasn't even on duty yet. He was about to go on duty."

Darby added, "He came in there, seen what the problem was, and asked me where my tools were. He got my tools and went outside and yanked the (electric) meter off."

White formerly worked for AEP (Appalachian Electric Power), and is a certified electrician.

It took about an hour for an AEP electrician to arrive at the Patrick residence. When the AEP worker arrived, he said that if White had not pulled the meter, the Patricks probably would have lost their house.

Disconnecting the electric meter put out the fire.

The Patricks had to use a generator for power for the next few days, but, fortunately, they knew a good electrician to install their new breaker box.

"Grady was an electrician, and he is a volunteer firefighter and a policeman," Darby said. "He even repaired the fuse box for me. He came back the next day or two and fixed everything for me."

Darby added, "Regular firefighters wouldn't have been able to do anything because they don't know how to touch the electricity. They've got to stand down until the power company comes. If they'd done that I probably would have lost the house, where the wiring would have caught on fire, it probably would have went through the walls. We were lucky to have Grady there."

The final inspection was Wednesday, and White's work was approved.

"I just want the people from Mount Carmel to know that they are lucky to have a man like this, and I think he needs to be recognized," Darby said.

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