Burned Firefighter Reflects On Tragic Fire - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/07/04

Burned Firefighter Reflects On Tragic Fire

While recovering in the hospital, Lyle Crandall has had plenty of time to read cards from concerned friends and reflect on the house fire that nearly took his life.

Crandall jokingly said "This hospital stay has probably been more painful than the burns. Thinking back, I can't see of anything that we could have done differently. It was unfortunate timing, because we were about to leave the building when all the fire came down".

One firefighter escaped through a window. Crandall and another firefighter were trapped inside. Crandall found a hose and sprayed water to keep the flames away.

"I'm amazed at how well I was able to maintain my cool. That surprised me more anything else. I'd never experienced anything like that before, and it scared the daylights out of me."

For a moment, Crandall thought he was doing to die.

"I was being burned. They were hollering about being burned. It got real quiet for a minute. I sat down and this sort of panic flashed through."

Then, relief overcame him as other firefighters rushed in to pull both men to safety. Crandall suffered third degree burns on his wrists, both sides of his waist, and neck. He underwent surgery several days ago.

"The doctor says the skin grafts went real well. If anything bothers me now more than anything else is where they took a strip off my leg for the skin graft."

Besides the physical wounds, Crandall must also deal with the emotional scars.

Crandall wiped tears from his eyes and said "We're always taught that you go in teams. You don't leave anybody. You have to rely on each other. No matter how bad it is, you don't leave them".

Despite the terrifying experience, this 20-year veteran will continue to volunteer.

"I'm sure that the first one that I go to is going to be a little tough, but I'm not going to stop doing it."

As Crandall leaves the hospital, another injured firefighter, Aaron Keebler, comes not to say good-bye, but to say see you soon on the front lines.

Keebler may be released from the hospital Saturday. Matthew Krohn is still recovering at the South Alabama Burn Center. Both men are with the Latimer Volunteer Fire Department.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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