Two Bryan Firemen Killed, Two Other Firefighters InjuredFeatured Stories, News Saturday, February 16th, 2013
Saturday 5:30 p.m. UPDATE FROM THE CITY OF BRYAN:
Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor has just announced the passing of Lt. Greg Pickard from the injuries he sustained last night during the Knights of Columbus Hall fire. Lt. Pickard, age 54, served and protected the citizens of Bryan for 32 years.
Firefighters Ricky Mantey and Mitch Moran are stable and being treated for burns.
Funeral arrangements for Lt. Eric Wallace have just been set as follows. The funeral will be Thursday, Feb. 21, at 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Bryan. The funeral procession will immediately follow the funeral service with burial at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Marlin, Texas. Visitation will be Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Adams Funeral Home in Marlin.
Several wives of College Station firefighters, led by Kim Varner, are organizing a candlelight vigil for the public that will be held tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. at Merrill Green Football Stadium adjacent to Bryan High School on Briarcrest Drive. The gates of the stadium will open at 6:30 p.m. Candles will be provided at the gates. The College Station Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums will be a part of the service. Parking for the vigil will be in the Bryan High School parking lots adjacent to the football stadium. The City of Bryan thanks the Bryan Independent School District for making the facility available for the community to come together in this time of grief and to Mrs. Varner and the other College Station firefighter wives who are coordinating the event.
Governor Perry has authorized the lowering of the Texas flag to half staff by all governmental entities in the area to recognize the line of duty death of Lt. Wallace. Businesses and other entities are also authorized to lower the Texas flag to half staff is they so desire. The duration of the flag status has not as yet been determined.
For only the second time in the 141 year history of the Bryan Fire Department, a firefighter has died in the line of duty.
A three-alarm fire Friday night that destroyed the Knights of Columbus Hall claimed the life of Lt. Eric Wallace. Three other firemen are hospitalized in regional burn centers. They are Lt. Greg Pickard, Firefighter Ricky Mantey Jr., and Probationary Firefighter Mitchel Moran.
Fire Chief Randy McGregor says Wallace was on the first engine to arrive at the scene and entered the building. While inside Wallace reported he was low on air and needed assistance. A rapid intervention team entered the building to assist Wallace. During those efforts the team members suffered burns. A second group of firefighters entered the building to remove Wallace.
An investigator from the state fire marshal’s office arrived at the scene Saturday. There’s been no determination to the cause of death and injuries or how the fire started late Friday night.
Bryan City Secretary Mary Lynne Stratta and Deputy Fire Marshal William Bouse say there have been offers of assistance from fire departments throughout the state. That includes counseling for firefighters from Bryan, College Station, and area volunteer departments who worked the incident and know the victims.
According to the Bryan city website, the fire department was established in 1871 and its first full time employee was hired in 1921. Stratta says the only other fireman who died in the line of duty was Richard Lopez in February of 1978.
Members of the Knights of Columbus council gathered Saturday at the nearby Bryan Ballroom, which at one time was a bowling alley owned by the council. Knights of Columbus meetings will be held on a temporary basis at the St. Anthony’s Parish Center.
The one-story building at Groesbeck and Palasota opened in 1948 and an addition was built in the 1950′s. Many frequented the hall for Thursday night bingo, which also began in the 1950′s and regularly drew visitors from out of town. The bingo equipment was destroyed and members are hoping the contents of the safe, which included historical information dating back to its charter in 1916, was not destroyed.
News release from the City of Bryan:
Bryan firefighters responded to a major commercial structural fire at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 1500 Groesbeck Street in Bryan at approximately 11:20 p.m., February 15.
Fire Lieutenant Eric Wallace, age 36, died in the line of duty. Three other firefighters were injured in the blaze and have been transported to burn units in other locations. Those three are Lieutenant Gregory W. Pickard, age 54, Firefighter Ricky D. Mantey, Jr., age 30, and Probationary Firefighter Mitchel S. Moran, age 21.
Fire officials report that a passerby saw the fire and called 9-1-1. Several Bryan units responded. College Station Fire Department helped secure the site after the Bryan firefighters were injured.
Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor said in a press conference at 6:00 a.m. that the State Fire Marshal’s Office will investigate the incident to determine the cause of the fire. It is reported that no activities were occurring in the KC Hall when the fire was reported to 9-1-1. Since the cause of the fire is under investigation, details cannot be released at this time.
Chief McGregor said, “There are no words to express our grief at the loss of Eric and our concern for Greg, Ricky and Mitch, and their families. These four courageous individuals represent the best of the profession and are true heroes in every sense of the word. “
Lt. Wallace protected the citizens of Bryan for almost 13 years with the Bryan Fire Department. He is survived by his wife, Brandi, and five children. Pickard, Mantey and Moran have served 32 years, 5 years, and 10 months, respectively, with the Bryan Fire Department.
The City of Bryan family appreciates the support of our neighbors in College Station and surrounding Volunteer Fire Departments. We would ask that the privacy of these brave men and their families be respected at this difficult time.
Funeral arrangements for Lt. Wallace are pending.
The City of Bryan was also notified that The 100 Club, a 60 year old Houston based non-profit organization, that supports the dependents of Firefighters and Law Enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, will present a $20,000 check to the family of Eric Wallace for immediate needs. Lt. Wallace was honored as a 100 Club Firefighter of the Year in 2010 for his off duty actions while rescuing a citizen from a burning home and saving the man’s life. Donations are being accepted to “The 100 Club Survivors Fund”, which provides benefits to the dependents of Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers who lose their life in the line of duty.
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