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BOLIVAR, Tenn. — A former volunteer firefighter in Hardeman County relied on his training to save the lives of his own children.

Tim Clark was called a hero for battling smoke and flames to rescue his son and daughter.

Clark didn’t consider himself a hero and said he just did what any parent would have done.

“Getting the most important things out of the house was my children. You can replace everything else, but you can’t replace somebody’s life,” he said.

Clark was holding tight to his daughter Lilly and his son Landon after escaping a fire early Thursday morning that heavily damaged their home near Bolivar, Tennessee.

“I was asleep for thirty minutes to an hour maybe, and I got woke up by inhaling smoke,” he recalled.

Clark ran to get his sleeping children and saw fire coming from the kitchen.

First stop was seven-year-old Landon’s room.

“It was in the first window, right there,” said Landon.

Landon was sound asleep.

But Tim, a former volunteer firefighter, knew exactly what to do.

“I couldn’t get him awake, and so I started shaking him, and I ended up just picking hm up and throwing him over my shoulder and went and got my daughter,” Clark told WREG.

That was the easy part.

Getting out of the burning house was a bigger challenge.

“I wasn’t sure if we were able to make it out of the front of the house or not. All the flames were over to the right, so we took off for the front door, and luckily we made it out,” he said.

He tried to fight the fire with the garden hose, but it was no use.

The fire spread quickly, even damaging Clark’s SUV.

Fortunately, Landon was only slightly burned on the side of his face.

“I got burned right there,” Landon showed us.

The family lost everything in the fire, but people in Hardeman County have already opened their hearts and donated clothing.

Tim said his 8-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he was worried more than ever about her health and providing for his two children.

Clark said that for years he’s been used to helping others in  disasters, and now he knows what matters most after the smoke clears.

“Not really being a hero. Just doing the right thing. Family comes first,” said Clark.

Investigators said the fire was caused by a water heater and quickly spread to the attic, kitchen and then the rest of the downstairs.