Homeowner recalls trying to rescue friend from house fire: ‘I tried screaming... he just wasn’t hearing me’

Homeowner recalls trying to rescue friend from house fire: ‘I tried screaming... he just wasn’t hearing me’
Pictured is the scene of a fatal house fire that occurred in Gun Barrel City. (Source: Gun Barrel City Fire Department)

GUN BARREL CITY, Texas (KLTV) - A Gun Barrel City man has recalled the night he not only lost his home to fire but also a close friend who lived with him.

Chris Cogbill said he and his wife went to bed Wednesday night not knowing it would be the last time they would speak with their longtime friend.

“He said he’d see us in the morning, he went back to his room, and we laid down,” Cogbill recalled. “I woke up to the smell of a weird fabric on fire.”

When Cogbill got out of bed, he said he realized it was his couch that was engulfed in flames. He shouted for his wife to get up and follow him out of the house.

“We ran outside the front door, and before I could even turn around from the ditch sign to go back... the whole kitchen and living was already [engufled in flames]," Cogbill said.

Cogbill said he went around the back of the house to try and wake his friend up, but he said the door was locked.

Firefighters who responded to the home said the house was fully-involved and heavy smoke was pouring from the home by the time they arrived.

“I don’t know if he had the TV up too loud, he just wasn’t hearing me,” Cogbill said. “I tried screaming, I hollered.”

Firefighters recovered the body of the 31-year-old man about a half-hour after they first arrived. Authorities will not release his identity until after they have contacted his family.

Cogbill, though, said he knew the man through grade school, and he had a big heart.

“He was a good man, he had a good heart. He [saw] the best in everyone; he’d give you the shirt off his back,” Cogbill said. “He really would.”

The home and contents were a complete loss; the American Red Cross is assisting the family. There were no injuries to the first responders.

Cogbill said he and his wife are thankful they escaped with their lives.

“Just know that it happens quick. It felt like two seconds," he said. “You don’t realize something that big can be so hot.”

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