Chadbourn police officer pulls man to safety after early morning explosion

A police officer is being hailed a hero after an early morning fire at a motel in Chadbourn.

CHADBOURN, NC (WWAY) — A police officer is being hailed a hero after an early morning fire at a motel in Chadbourn.

Around 4:30 Wednesday morning, several calls were made to the Columbus County 911 Center in reference to an explosion at the Budget Inn on North Brown Street.

Chadbourn Mayor Phillip Britt lives close by the motel and heard the explosion. He says he and his wife, Shannon, were awake and getting up for the day. The rattling from the explosion knocked the alarm clock off his bedside table.

“A firefighter from eight miles away said he heard it. Another firefighter about a mile and a half from here said it shook his house,” Britt said. “It actually shook the things inside of my house. The explosion, that’s only the second explosion in all the years that I’ve ever heard that was that bad. It was a terrible explosion.”

The two went out on their porch and saw a small fire and a massive hole in the motel. They called 911. Chadbourn Police Officer Johnathan Driggers was about a mile away and responded to the call.

“When I come up the building was fully involved with flames. Pretty much, I got out and done what anybody would do,” Driggers said.

When searching the area, Driggers found a man who had been severely injured and pulled him to safety.

“It’s something you can’t really prepare for, although that’s what you think of, you don’t know what you’re going to do when you get there,” Driggers said. “I just did what anybody would do, I mean I took an oath to protect and serve. I just went about my way and done what I knew to do.”

After getting the man in an ambulance, Driggers along with Mayor Britt and his wife Shannon grabbed hoses to spray down the now-massive fire as several agencies responded to the scene.

“To give you a magnitude, it blew one of the doors across the street in front of the Napa. People were waking up and trying to get out of the rooms. The fact that there wasn’t more loss of life and more people burned is an act of God,” Britt said. “Everybody that showed up, the rescue squad, the fire department, the sheriff’s office, the police department. The fact that everybody got here as fast as they did, saved lives.”

Investigators deemed the fire accidental. The man who was injured in the explosion is still being treated at the UNC-Chapel Hill Burn Center and remains in critical condition.

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