Survivor of Christianburg fire says he's forever grateful to hero police officer

Captain Doug Weddle ran into Sean Gillespie's burning home to save his life

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. - Update (6/6/17 10 p.m.) : Christiansburg Police have told WFXR News investigators have determined the fire was started by improperly disposed smoking materials.


Captain Doug Weddle found a burning inferno on the 100 block of Hill Street Sunday afternoon.

"I went up the steps up front and it was so hot I couldn't get near it," said Captain Doug Weddle of the Christiansburg Police Department.

Initially, he thought the house was abandoned, but when he saw the homeowner's dogs, his instincts told him to go inside.

"One of the animals came flying back by me back inside, and my gut instinct was he's going back to get his master, so I said let's try this," said Weddle.

Captain Weddle searched the house room by room without any fire protection.

"I went into the bedroom, and I could make out a figure laying there and I grabbed him and I think he swung at me because I'm pretty sure he thought I was breaking into his house," said Weddle.

Sean Gillespie was asleep when he got the unexpected wake up call.

"I had a CPAP on, so I'm pretty sure that's why I didn't smell the smoke or anything," said Sean Gillespie who was saved by Captain Weddle. "He pulled me out and I was in a kind of a daze. Everything else was a blur, I still can't get over it."

When both men were safely out, Weddle says he got sick.

"I just started throwing up and having a difficult time breathing," said Weddle.

He was taken to the hospital to be checked out, other than a sore throat, Weddle says he's fine.

Gillespie's home is complete loss, but he and his husband are thankful for Weddle's bravery. 

If it hadn't been for him,  I wouldn't been here, so yes I'm in his debt," said Sean Gillespie.

"He saved his life and our dogs and we're forever grateful,"  said Steve Brant, Gillespie's husband.

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