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Hinesville, mayor applaud firefighters feat
Councilman honored for constituent service
firefighters 3
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas stands with firefighters Charles Helton and Robert Caslen during a ceremony to honor them for saving Tenika Chipp and her D’Jari Chipp, 7, from a February fire. Also in the photo are relatives of the firefighters. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
Hinesville firefighters Charles Helton and Robert Caslen were recognized for heroism in the line of duty Thursday by city officials during a medal ceremony at Hinesville City Hall.
The pair helped rescue five residents, including Tenika Chipp and her seven-year-old son, D’Jari Chipp, from a fire at Baytree Apartments on Bradwell Street in Hinesville.
Caslen and Helton were among the first to respond to the fire. Hinesville Fire Chief Lamar Cook said he was proud of Caslen and Helton and all his firefighters for their dedication to service.
“This was a team effort on behalf of Liberty County EMS, the Hinesville Fire Department, the Hinesville Police Department, the 911 operators and everyone else involved,” Cook said. “These two firefighters happened to be the ones called in to rescue the occupants so we thank them and the team.”
Chipp and her son suffered burns and smoke inhalation because of the fire, Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said. The mother and her little boy were treated at a burn center but have made full recoveries, Thomas said.
Chipp also reportedly cut her face when she jumped from a second-floor window to escape the fire. D’Jari and resident Barbara Page were apparently sleeping when the fire broke out and had to be carried out of the building by firefighters, according to an earlier report.
City fire department officials previously reported the Baytree Apartments fire began in a guest bedroom in a ground-floor apartment just after 9 p.m. Feb. 18 and rapidly spread through the apartment, causing heavy fire and smoke damage.
The young firefighters modestly accepted the recognition and said their greatest reward is helping people.
“It was awesome to be able to see this little man again, because knowing that he’s still walking around is the best reward I could get,” Helton said.
“My family is extended now,” Caslen said.
Thomas presented plaques to them and placed medals of valor around their necks during the public ceremony. Along with Chipp and her son, D’Jari, relatives of the firefighters stood proudly by their hometown heroes.
Chipp thanked Caslen, Helton and the fire department for saving her and her little boy.
“They were awesome and they will always be a part of our lives,” she said.
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