BRYAN, Texas (via kbtx.com) – Two Bryan firefighters died from injuries following a fire at the Knights of Columbus Hall near Downtown Bryan late Friday night.
UTMB says 54-year-old Lt. Greg Pickard died Saturday afternoon. He was a 32-year veteran of the Bryan Fire Department. Lt. Eric Wallace died earlier, a nearly 13-year veteran of BPD.
Two others are still in the hospital after receiving severe injuries in the fire in the 1500 block of Groesbeck Drive.
FRM/FFN: Injured Texas Firefighters in Stable Condition
“During the fire effort the Lieutenant and the firefighter off of that first arriving engine company made entry into the building and radioed they were low on air and needed assistance,” explained Bryan Fire Chief Randy McGregor. “At that point, the order was given to evacuate the building and the firefighter on the initial engine company was able to escape the building. The lieutenant was removed by another team of firefighters where he later succumbed to his injuries.”
Firefighter Ricky Mantey Jr., 30, and Probationary Firefighter Mitch Moran, 21, were last listed in stable condition. They were taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan, then by helicopter to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for treatment of burns.
“You just never expect something like this to happen, and especially to know that fireman were injured, especially knowing what they do for us,” said Andy Ruffino, a KC fraternity member.
The cause is under investigation. No event was being held at the hall at the time.
“There are no words to express our grief at the loss of Eric and our concern for Greg, Ricky and Mitch, and their families,” said Chief McGregor. “These four courageous individuals represent the best of the profession and are true heroes in every sense of the word.”
The Bryan Fire Department had a number of engines on scene in Bryan, and the College Station Fire Department assisted. There were also volunteer fire crews from Brazos County helping.
Wallace, 36, was married to Brandie and had five children, according to the City of Bryan. He was a nearly 13-year veteran of the department. In June 2012, a fundraiser was held to help the Wallace family after the couple’s newest child was born premature.
In 2010, Wallace was honored by the 100 Club for bravery in a 2009 fire. He was off-duty, driving home from a shift when he saw a house on fire. When he found out the homeowner was still inside, he ran into the burning building. The homeowner was too weak to get out on his own, but Wallace pulled him to safety.
Wallace’s body was brought back Saturday after an autopsy was conducted in Austin.
Pickard had been with BFD for 32 years, according to the city. He was married to Susie, a Bryan ISD teacher, and had two children and three grandchildren. One of Pickard’s children is a College Station firefighter.
Mantey has served BFD for five years, and Moran for ten months.
According to KHOU 11 News reporter Malini Basu at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, a burn unit doctor says the firefighters being treated at their facility may be hospitalized for more than a month due to their injuries.
A relief account has been set up for donations the fallen and injured firefighters’ families. It’s at Wells Fargo under the Benefit Donation account for the Bryan Fire Department.
Wells Fargo Bank, Main Branch
Bryan, Tx 77802
Attn: Bryan Firefighter Fund
Wallace’s funeral will be Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Bryan. A funeral procession and burial will follow at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Marlin, Texas. Visitation will be Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at Adams Funeral Home in Marlin.
Funeral arrangements for Pickard are pending