It seemed like any other day for Deptford Township Police Officer Tim Parks. The 11-year veteran of the department had just returned from an on the job injury and was enjoying his first full week back.
"It was the last hour and a half of the shift," said Parks.
That's when Parks received an emergency radio call.
"It was an active fire with possibly three entrapped," he said.
Parks was the first to respond to a home on the 100 block of Caribou Court in Deptford around 3:40 a.m. on Monday. Officials say a neighbor called police after hearing a popping sound coming from the home. When he arrived, he saw smoke pouring from the house.
"I opened the front door and I couldn't go in," said Parks. "So we tried an alternative route in the back of the house."
Parks kicked in the door, injuring his knee in the process. He then found 58-year-old Christopher Mach inside.
"I grabbed the victim by his leg and began pulling him out of the house," said Parks. "As he was coming out he got stuck in the doorway."
With the help of two other officers, Parks was able to pull Mach to safety. Mach suffered suffered burns on about one-third of his body and was taken to Temple University Hospital’s burn unit, according to Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld.
The fire took less than an hour to bring under control.
The cause of the blaze, which damaged the kitchen and living room, wasn’t released. The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office joined firefighters to investigate the blaze. That investigation seemed to focus on the back of the home.
Weisenfeld said that investigators looked at arson as a possible cause.
As for Parks, both his family as well as the victim's neighbors are hailing him as a hero. Parks insists however that he was merely doing his job.
"It's just what we signed up to do," he said. "There were several officers there. Without all of us, none of us would have made it."