Montgomery Co. firefighters help in NC tornado rescue

Firefighters run into burning buildings all the time so it should be no surprise that when they see a tornado coming, their instinct is to run toward it. ABC7’s Julie Parker caught up with Montgomery County firefighters in North Carolina, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to help.

In Sanford, a tornado slammed into a home improvement store with 100 customers and employees inside.

“We saw the black cloud coming -- the circling – I mean, you actually saw some of the debris that was in the sky,” said Brian Jefferson, one of five Montgomery Co. firefighters who were in Sanford for a training seminar. When they heard that several people were reported missing in the store, they sprung into action.

“We were in the right place at the right time to be able to lend a hand,” said Capt. Mike Green of the urban search and rescue unit.

Firefighters grabbed some of the tools they'd just been practicing with and raced to the scene. “There's a lot of danger there,” Green said. ‘There were slabs hanging from the roof that we were unable to protect so you don't really know what's going to happen.” The crew assisted in rescuing a resident trapped under debris at the home improvement store, using specialized equipment from their training class, the police said in a statement.

They later learned all 100 people were safe. The firefighters' hotel was just two blocks from the Lowe's -- not a shingle was out of place. They all made it home safely.