Burned Firefighters Say They'll Do It Again - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/30/04

Burned Firefighters Say They'll Do It Again

From her daughter's front porch Elmarita Saucier watched firefighters toss out the charred remnants of her home. She was at her sister's house when someone called to tell her about the fire. Saucier arrived as volunteer firefighters prepared to enter her home.

"There was three of them that went into the house and I kept waiting and waiting and thinking, 'Well, maybe they'll come out.'"

Shortly after, one did.

"He come around and he got right in front of the house and kinda collapsed on the ground. And I couldn't hear what he was telling them, but he was telling them to get these other guys out."

The firefighter who made it out was Matt Krohn. Lyle Crandall and Aaron Keebler were still inside.

"Just as we were getting ready to leave, what's called a 'flash over' occurred. Basically, the whole house burst into flames and we were stuck in the middle of it," Crandall said.

From their hospital beds, firefighters Crandall and Keebler recounted what happened.

"Basically we tried to find our way out. Didn't go anywhere, everywhere we turned there was something there," Keebler said.

Seconds later Aaron Keebler passed out.

"Rather than leave Aaron there, I just sat down on the floor, was able to find a hose nozzle and was spraying water up above us to keep the fire off us," Crandall said.

Crandall says the whole incident lasted maybe 45 seconds but felt like a frightening eternity.

"It's scary, but it wasn't a panic. Initially I think it was a little bit of a panic, but once I figured out, look I can't drag him out of here passed out, through a window, it was just a matter of sitting and keeping the heat off us as much as possible."

Soon after, help arrived.

"Matt apparently had gotten out and come around the back of the house and told them we were inside," Crandall said.

"I know they started spraying me with the hose and after that I woke up. I was pretty much passed out laying face down on the ground and they were picking me up and carrying me out," Keebler said.

Both Crandall and Keebler received burns to their arms, neck and upper body. They know it could have been much worse.

Still, both say injuries won't keep them down when duty calls.

"Most of them won't admit it, but they want to help people. Most of them say it's the adrenaline or the prestige, but when it comes right down to it they want to be able to help somebody," Crandall said. "Whether you're getting paid or not, I don't think, for a lot of us doesn't matter."

Aaron Keebler agrees.

"I don't think any of us really look at it as being heroes, it's just something we love doing," Keebler said. "Soon as I'm healed up, I'll be back."

And that's a huge comfort to a very grateful Elmarita Saucier.

"I tell you, it's a good thing we have firefighters," Saucier said, tearing up. "I'm really sorry that them poor boys got hurt, but I'm thankful they did try to save my home."

Lyle Crandall is the assistant chief of the Fort Bayou Volunteer Fire Department. Aaron Keebler is with the Latimer Volunteer Department. Both will have to stay in the hospital for a few days.

The third firefighter injured, Latimer's assistant chief Matthew Krohn, was taken to the USA Burn Center in Mobile with burns on 20 percent of his body. Thursday night he was listed in good condition.

Family members believe a candle may have caused of the fire.

by Josh Ridgdell 

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