ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Four Rock Hill police officers are being hailed as heroes after responding to an apartment fire Tuesday morning. They made it to the scene before the Fire Department and saved victims from the burning building.
"It was intense. That's basically the best thing I can say, " said Officer Brent Bruggink.
Tuesday morning was the first morning on the overnight shift for these four Rock Hill police officers, but a memorable one when a fire broke out at the Oak Hollow Apartments. Officer Larry Vandermolen heard the fire call.
"Put that information out to fellow officers on the team. I knew there would be guys in the South End a lot closer than I was. I put it out to them," said Officer Vandermolen.
Officer Tim Allen arrived minutes later.
"There were people in the yard screaming. The building was fully engulfed, at which point you could hear people screaming, so I went and ran up the steps," said Officer Allen.
Officer Antoine Logan followed behind.
"I ran in behind him, saw him go up a flight of stairs, couldn't see anything up the stairs. Black smoke, completely. Heard children screaming," said Officer Logan.
They were able to rescue two adults and two children out of the building. With the fire department not yet on the scene, Officer Bruggink wanted to see if anyone else was trapped inside.
"I saw a gentleman. He was screaming for me. I asked if anyone else was inside. He said, ‘Yes. my family is in the apartment,’" said Officer Bruggink.
That was Samuel White. Officer Brewjink told his sister Teronica White and his girlfriend Mandi Coley, who is 7 months pregnant, that they had to jump. He helped catch them.
"I said be careful coming out. Slow and steady. I said we're here to catch you. We got you. We got you," said Bruggink.
And they did. Everyone trapped inside made it out safely. The officers made it there just four minutes before the fire department, but it was four minutes that could have drastically changed the outcome.
“I'm not a fire expert by any means, but there's not a doubt in my mind that there could have been fatalities," said Officer Bruggink.
Rock Hill police say they are working with the fire department on the investigation. They aren't ruling out the possibility that the fire was set on purpose.