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.