Chadbourn, NC – A person had to be airlifted to the UNC Burn Center in Chapel Hill after being badly burned in a fire at the Budget Inn Motel in Chadbourn at the intersection of N. Brown and 8th streets Wednesday morning.

An explosion was heard across the street from the motel around 4:30 Wednesday morning by Mayor Phillip Britt and a fire engulfed the two-story building. When fire crews arrived, one building was partially collapsed and there was risk of another building close by was becoming involved.

Britt said there was one person in the building at the time.

“The support from area first responders was impressive and humbling,” said Britt. “Chadbourn Police Officer Jonathan Driggers pulled the fire victim from the corner of the building without any concerns for his own safety. He was a hero.”

The building, that includes a kitchen area for guests and is separate from the rest of the motel, is more than 50 years old and a door to the building blew 89 feet away, landing across the street in front of the NAPA Auto building.

According to a press release from the Columbus County EMS, the investigation revealed the fire to be accidental.

It has been determined that it could not be ruled out that human error caused an LP gas leak that resulted in the explosion thus causing the fire as well as the collapse of the building.

Britt said the fire was contained within 35 minutes; however, the building is a total loss. A section of NC Hwy 410 was temporarily closed because of debris in the roadway.

According to officials with Columbus County EMS, as of 3 p.m., the burn victim is in critical condition.