Jackson County Fire Hits Firefighters Hard

Despite all the activity around the Fort Bayou Volunteer Fire Department this week, the firefighters feel a definite void.

Firefighter Jeffrey Brune said "Spirits have been o.k., but it's been mellow around here".

Firefighter Allen Bevier said "You get a call and you're used to hearing him.  He's one of the first ones on the radio en route. You haven't heard that in the last week".

The man they are missing is Lyle Crandall. He's the Assistant Fire chief who was badly burned while fighting a house fire on Old Biloxi Road in Latimer on December 29th. The tragedy came as a shock to his men.

Bevier said "Just from his years of experience, he's just the last person that I would have thought to get hurt, because he's one of the ones you can always depend on".

In fact, Crandall trained all the firefighters in his department, including his son Lyle the third.

Lyle Crandall, III, said "It's been a lot of stress, a lot of worry. My mom's taking it the hardest".

The younger Crandall says he learned a crucial lesson from the way his dad fought back the flames to protect another firefighter.

Crandall said "My dad said he was surprised because he kept his cool inside there. I'm actually surprised myself. I don't know if I would have been able to do it. But it does teach me a lot of how I should try to stay calm inside".

For now, Crandall and his fellow firefighters can find comfort and support from each other, and continue to do what Lyle Crandall taught them.

Bevier said "Just try to keep our spirits up and do our job. We'll take care of things while he's out and hope that he gets better".

Bevier says since the fire, the men have taken a closer look at their jobs. He said "You just got to go and do your job, and watch what you do. You're more cautious and you pay attention to more things. It opens your eyes to a lot of things. You get to where you watch each other even more and make sure your partner's got your back and you got your partner's back".

A benefit account is now open to help pay medical bills and other expenses for all three injured firefighters. The account is under the "Latimer Fire Relief Fund". You can donate at any branch of Hancock Bank.