UPSHUR COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Four East Texas firefighters escaped a house fire just after the roof began collapsing. It happened in the 4800 block of FM 726 in Upshur County. KLTV spoke with the Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department Chief, who was in the house at the time of the collapse.
The Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department was called to a house fire about 4 a.m. at 4885 FM 726. According to Glenwood Assistant Fire Chief Mike Fennell and Chief Katiland Gray, they saw fire on their arrival.
“We rolled up on the scene and we had fire coming through the roof, and of course we didn’t know the extent of it,” Fennell said.
Several firefighters, including Chief Gray, entered the burning building to put out the blaze. The fire was in the attic and the roof suddenly partially collapsed while firefighters were inside.
“The closet door, when I went down the hallway; all of a sudden, roof, closet door all came down on me. I hit the ground and went to scrambling. I had my hose in my hand so I was like, OK, I’m all right. You just keep going. As long as you’re not hurt you just keep fighting,” Gray said.
In a situation like that a firefighter can follow their hose back to safety.
“You can’t see. You can’t really hear anything. All you can hear is a roar so you rely heavily on your senses,” Gray said.
They got out of the building unharmed and began fighting the fire defensively from outside.
“We had a RIT team in place; a Rapid Intervention Team, and we had a roof collapse. And when we did we backed everybody out. We activated out air horns which is telling everybody on the scene that are inside to back out. And when we did instead of being offensive, we went defensive,” Fennell said.
Fennell said when a mandatory evacuation is called they follow a personal accountability system.
“I counted all the firefighters that were in, and then when they came out I did another count, but I had my Rapid Intervention Team right here ready to go in case anybody was injured or couldn’t get out,” Fennell said.
“The thing is it’s all part of being a fireman. You know the risks. Not everybody runs in to burning buildings,” Gray said.
And a few don’t come out. Fortunately, Gray and three other firefighters managed to escape the fire.
“Safety is paramount, and any fire we go to, have to make sure everybody goes home,” Fennell said.
Seven departments responded with aid. This was the second fire at the residence. The first was in a bedroom about 2 a.m. Saturday.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause. No one was at home at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries reported.
At about 4 a.m. Tuesday, the Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department was called to a house fire at 4800 FM 726, flames were through the roof when they arrived, according to Chief Kaitland Grey.
The fire was in the attic and the roof partially collapsed with firefighters inside. They got out of the building unharmed and began fighting the fire defensively from outside.
The fire began early Saturday morning in the bedroom and firefighters got the initial fire out quickly. The second fire, Tuesday, took about three hours to put out.
Tanker trucks were needed since there was no hydrant in the area. Seven Departments responded with aid. Responding agencies included Glenwood, Diana, Ore City, East Mountain, West Mountain, Judson Metro, and Gilmer.
The investigation of the cause of the fire has been turned over to the state fire marshals office. No one was home at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.