North Carolina police officer dies while responding to fire

police car


Officer Craig Cloninger, 38, died while responding to a fire Saturday night. (Photo: Mount Gilead Police)

A police officer died Saturday night as he was responding to a house fire in Mount Gilead, North Carolina, about 60 miles east of Charlotte.

Officer Craig Cloninger, 38, was on the scene of a fire when he “suffered a medical emergency and became unconcious,” Mount Gilead Police Chief Pat Preslar said in a statement. Cloninger was a reserve officer with the small-town police department, the chief said.

Fire crews were fighting a blaze that fully engulfed a house just before midnight, and Cloninger was on the scene, Preslar said. The fire department later found a body in the burned home.

“The death of an officer is a tragic event,” the chief said in a news release. “When it involves someone as young as Craig, who has children, it is even more difficult.”

Cloninger is survived by a wife and two daughters, the department said.

Officers with the department shared photos on social media of Cloninger’s favorite car, detailed and put on display in Mount Gilead as a memorial. It’s the same car he was driving Saturday night, the department said.  

EMS on scene at the fire immediately started treating the police officer and took him to a hospital in nearby Troy, North Carolina.

The chief did not give any details on the medical emergency.

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