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A Stantonsburg Police K-9 officer, his son and two K-9s escaped safely from a burning home Saturday night.
Stantonsburg-Moyton Fire Chief William McMurray said the fire was at the home of Stantonsburg Police Officer Terry “T.J.” Williams Jr. at 5112 Old Stantonsburg Road, Wilson, between Grimsley Store Road and Fangra Court about 5 miles west of Stantonsburg.
At the time of the fire, Williams had the police department’s veteran police dog, Aaron, and was also training a 14-month-old dog named Dojo.
“He was able to get his family first, then the animals out of the home, and that was as far as he got before the whole entire residence was fully engulfed,” said Chief Orlando Rosario of the Stantonsburg Police Department.
McMurray said Wilson County Emergency Management and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office arson investigation unit are examining the fire’s cause.
“We are working with them right now,” McMurray said. “We haven’t come to a conclusion yet, so it is still under investigation.”
McMurray said it took 50 to 60 firefighters from four fire departments an hour and a half to put out fire.
About 40 percent of the small one-story structure was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
“It’s a total loss,” McMurray said. “What fire didn’t get, smoke damaged.”
HELPING THE OFFICER
Rosario said the call came in about 8 p.m. Saturday.
“I got a page from the 911 center that one of my officer’s homes was fully engulfed, and they were concerned about a police K-9s still being in the residence,” Rosario said.
“I reached out to the officer and wasn’t able to reach him, and I reached out to the officer on duty to go out to the house to provide assistance,” Rosario said. “I finally was able to speak to the officer who stated that him, his 4-year-old son and his police K-9 were able to get out of the residence, but all of his equipment was damaged.”
Williams, 24, is also a member of a Marine Corps Reserve Unit in addition to being a police officer and a volunteer with the Sanoca Fire Department in Saratoga.
“His police uniforms and military uniforms got damaged and personal clothing,” Rosario said.
Williams, his son and dogs are being temporarily housed in the Sanoca Fire Department.
“He is from this area,” Rosario said. “We have been collecting donations, not just monetary but also couches and dishware and anything. He has a total loss of everything in the home except for his truck and the clothes on his back.”
The master bedroom is where the fire is believed to have started.
A Statonsburg Police patrol car was damaged because it was sitting close to the house.
Rosario said there have been supportive responses from the community for Williams and his family.
“People wanted to come out there to help out any way they can,” Rosario said. “I have been thoroughly pleased with the turnout from the community. We are actually in the process of trying to locate a place to store some of this stuff, the furniture and clothing and stuff like that for him.”
Rosario said Williams has been a full-time officer with the department for two years.
“We hired him straight out of the academy,” Rosario said.
Rosario said Williams is trying to be strong for his son and for the community.
“Sometimes as men, we think it is too prideful to ask for help or to say when we need help. I might be wrong, but that’s just my opinion of where I think he is,” Rosario said. “He is definitely one of the most important guys to my team, not just for his volunteering with the Marine Corps, volunteering with the fire department and employment with the police department. He’s one of the strongest ones. He is a go-getter, and I wish I could multiply him.”
“I am definitely looking forward to the outcome of the investigation to see how it goes,” Rosario said. “As a police department, we are asking for prayers and wishes for the family that they do well and come out of this well.”
The Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department, East Nash Volunteer Fire Department and Sanoca Fire Department all responded to the call. No firefighters were injured.
Rosario said Womble Realty, from whom Williams was renting the home, is trying to find him another place to live.