Off-duty firefighter critically injured in house fire

McCREARY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT/WVLT) -- When he saw his neighbor's home, go up in flames, he knew he had to jump into action.

Arlie Hill is used to doing that, but this time, the firefighter went in without protective gear, and now he's fighting for his life.

Hill is part of the Whitley City Volunteer Fire Department.

He has burns to 90 percent of his body after rushing into the flames, to save a neighbor's home.

It happened Friday night in McCreary County Kentucky.

Hill and his brother-in-law, Adam Stephens, also a firefighter were off duty.

But when they saw a neighbors home go up in flames, they didn't think twice.

That's when officials say a flashfire happened, forcing Hill to collapse in the living room. No one was inside.

Stephens suffered burns to his arms and face.

Hill known as "Pooh" by his friends and family, was burned so badly he was flown to the University of Cincinnati burn unit.

His brother, Brian Hill, hasn't left his side, "tells you what kind of man he is. He's a hard worker and he gives to his community."

A Facebook page, Prayers for Pooh, is sparking the attention of firefighters all over the nation.

"It's all this brotherhood of firefighters" says Brian Hill," I lifted my head up off the table and there's four dozen Dunkin' Donuts and two gallons of coffee. Last night, this page went up on Facebook, Prayers for Pooh. Just overwhelming. Thousands of people are on there. I've seen people from California, Hawaii, Canada,"

It's not only helping Pooh, it's giving his family hope.

"The main thing right now is for everybody to keep praying," says Brian Hill, "The prayer chains have to be helping. Something worked. The doctors said it couldn't get better and it did,"

Arlie hill was scheduled for surgery to remove some skin to help those critical burns .

Over the last two days, Hill's oxygen levels have improved quicker than expected.

Original Story

A McCreary County firefighter is in the hospital after running into a burning building while off-duty Friday night.

Lieutenant Arlie Hill and Lieutenant Adam Stephens with the Whitley City Fire Department saw the fire on Water Plant Road and both jumped to action.

They saw flames, smelled smoke and acted on instinct. “He noticed the fire and called it in and rushed in to see if there were victims,” said Greg Bird, who is the temporary spokesperson for the Whitley City Fire Department.

Around 10:30 Friday night, a house on Water Plant Road in the Pine Knot community went up into flames, cuing Lt. Arlie Hill and Lt. Adam Stephens into action.

Lt. Hill and Lt. Stephens were both off-duty at the time but they were able to respond to the scene so quickly because they live right down the road.

Just moments after Lt. Hill entered the burning building, the unexpected happened. “Unfortunately when he went in a flash over event occurred causing him to collapse in the living room.”

After the flash over or "explosion," Hill somehow became trapped in the room. Thankfully, Lt. Stephens wasn’t far behind and was able to rescue Hill from the home.

Stephens suffered a few burns on his arm and face but unfortunately, Hill wasn't so lucky.

“He has suffered burns over 90% of his body and is in critical condition.”

Hill is now at the University of Cincinnati Hospital surrounded by family, friends and fellow fire fighters.

As for the folks who can't be by Hill's hospital bed, ”We had a candlelight vigil for him Saturday night where a number of people showed up to show support. They braved the thunderstorm and rain to send prayers. It’s been amazing to see a community rally around a fire fighter,” Bird said.

Sending prayers, thoughts and well wishes to the brave man who put his life on the line for the sake of saving another.

“He is one of the best firefighters we have in the department.”

Arson inspectors are still investigating the cause of the fire but they say no one was living in the home at the time.

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