Kingsport Fire Department Capt. Kenneth Swinney and firefighter Dustin Olson were among the first to arrive at the residential fire at 1121 Camelia Ave. shortly after 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
About 35 percent of the house had heavy fire and smoke at that time, and firefighters were told that two boys, ages 4 and 6, were trapped inside.
The boys’ father had reportedly attempted a rescue and he was seriously injured.
The front of the house was fully involved with flames, and although the boys’ bedroom is on the ground floor at the rear, due to the sloping terrain that was actually a second story window.
Swinney and Olson made entry through that left rear bedroom window, found both boys unconscious in that room and carried them out where emergency medical treatment was administered.
The rescue occurred within the first three minutes of their arrival on the scene, and only 11 minutes passed from the time first responders arrived on the scene and the boys arrived at the Holston Valley Medical Center emergency room.
KFD Deputy Chief David Chase said the fire very easily could have been a fatality if Swinney and Olson hadn’t gotten to the boys when they did.
“I can tell you (the two boys) were at a point where it was going to go one way or the other,” Chase said. “They were both unconscious, they were both having a lot of respiratory difficulty. (Rescuers) had to use advanced life support measures when they got them out of the building, with airway management, intravenous therapy, oxygen therapy and all that.”
Chase added, “Those two were very critical, and the father was serious to critical also. He had burns on both upper extremities and a large laceration on his arm.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The state fire marshal and the Kingsport Police Department are involved in the investigation and the names of the victims have not been released.
There was no fire in the boys’ bedroom, and Chase said the boys weren’t burned. They appeared to be suffering mainly from smoke inhalation and respiratory injuries.
The father was treated at HVMC, and the mother was not injured.
Chase said no firefighters were injured.
Six engines, one ladder truck and 17 firefighters responded to the fire, which was under control within 20 minutes.