Noonday, Texas Fire Claims 2 Firefighters

‘They Died Gallantly’

By KENNETH DEAN
Staff Writer

FLINT – They bravely donned their bunker gear and entered the home during an early Friday morning fire – a fire that would claim the lives of two Noonday Volunteer firefighters and injure two others.

Firefighters from three counties rushed to the scene in the 20100 block of Old Jacksonville Highway to aid their brothers stricken with grief and offer their shoulders for support in the loss of 42-year-old Noonday Capt. Kevin Williams and 19-year-old firefighter Austin Cheek.

The fire also displaced a family and claimed two dogs when the five-bedroom house was destroyed.

All of the family members got out of the home safely.

As firefighters and the community began dealing with the tragedy, investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives and the State Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene to learn what went wrong.


FIREFIGHTERS LOST

The fire broke out about 1:43 a.m. Friday, and firefighters with Flint-Gresham Volunteer Department responded to the fire and immediately requested mutual aid from Bullard and Noonday departments.

“There were flames coming from the roof, so they asked for assistance with the fire,” Smith County Fire Marshal Jim Seaton said. “On arrival, firefighters from Noonday were assigned to an interior attack team.”

Seaton said when firefighters outside lost radio communication with the firefighters inside, they went into a search-and-rescue mode.

Minutes later there was no radio communication with either man.

Two additional Noonday firefighters, Chief Gary Arrant and Travis Burnett were sent into the burning structure to locate Williams and Cheek.

“They found one of the men and brought him out and had to return to find the other,” he said.

Arrant and Burnett were injured during the recovery process and transported to East Texas Medical Center for treatment for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. They have both been released.

Seaton said the cause of the fire and the reason for the deaths were being investigated by the ATF and state fire marshal.

“They died gallantly trying to put out the fire,” he said at the scene. “This is a blow and devastating to the entire firefighting community, especially among the volunteer firefighting departments.”

Bullard Fire Chief Keith Newburn said he was working the hose spraying fire off the rescuing firefighters bringing out their fallen brothers.

“We got the first one out of the door and began CPR, but he didn’t have any vitals,” he said choking back tears. “It was our main priority to get these men out of there.”

Newburn said before the loss of communication with Williams and Cheek he had been trying to resuscitate one of the family’s dogs.

“Everything changed, and we went from firefighting to rescue. It just wasn’t enough,” he said. “This is really hard, because I was Travis’ Cub Scout master and knew Williams from working fires together.”


Read the full story at TylerPaper.Com


I want to thank Keith of the Bullard VFD for this video clip found on his MySpace page.


When tragedy strikes it draws people close! That is the nature of the Red Dirt Scene!
Keep the dirt RED!

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Published in: on August 25, 2007 at 8:27 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. God bless all of you in this time of extreme grief.

    Patrick Sperry
    NREMT-P FF1 (retd.)


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