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2 firefighters dead, 2 hurt after Texas lodge fire

Posted: February 17, 2013 9:00 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2013 9:00 a.m.

Bryan Police Officer Al Wescoat straightens flowers at a makeshift memorial near a Knights of Columbus Hall. (AP)

 

BRYAN, Texas (AP) — Two Texas fire lieutenants have died of burns after battling a lodge hall fire, a city official said Saturday.

Gregory Pickard and Eric Wallace, both with the department in the Central Texas city of Bryan, were in a group of firefighters responding to the blaze about midnight Friday at a Knights of Columbus hall, city spokeswoman Mary Lynne Stratta said.

The team entered the burning building but didn't emerge when ordered to evacuate, Stratta said.

Wallace, 36, died at the scene and Pickard, 54, on Saturday at a hospital in Galveston, she said.

"He called for help, said he was low on air," Stratta said of Wallace, a 13-year Bryan Fire Department veteran.

With Wallace still inside, Pickard and two other firefighters — Ricky Mantey Jr. and Mitchel Moran — were sent in to rescue him when the roof collapsed in flames, Fire Chief Randy McGregor said.

Rapid response units found the men inside the building. Mantey, 30, and Moran, 21, also were injured. They were taken to the Galveston hospital with burns. On Saturday, Stratta said they were both in serious but stable condition.

The Texas State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire in Bryan, about 90 miles northwest of Houston. A news release from the city said nothing was being held at the hall at the time.

"These four courageous individuals represent the best of the profession and are true heroes in every sense of the word," McGregor said.

Services for Wallace are scheduled for Thursday in Bryan, while those for Pickard, a 32-year veteran of the department, are pending.

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