Two Firefighters Praised as Heroes for Rescuing Three from Burning Home - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/03/03 - Henderson

Two Firefighters Praised as Heroes for Rescuing Three from Burning Home

More on a house fire in Henderson Thursday: A 77 year old woman and two children, two and three years old- are all in critical condition. They suffered severe smoke inhalation, but were saved because of the quick action of two firefighters.

"All of this was taking place within 45 seconds to a minute of us arriving here.  One of our firefighters entered this bedroom area at the end of the house," says Henderson Fire Chief Dwayne Pirtle.

Bruce Bommarito and Larry Thomas didn't think twice about going in. Bommarito is a paid rookie and Thomas part of the Henderson Volunteer Fire Department.

"The heat was so intense that it drove him back out," Pirtle says. 

But they got inside. The first to be found was 3-year-old Austin. The search continued finding Dot Armstrong, 77 years old, and Little Alexis.

"There was a two-year-old female lying beside her on the floor at the foot of the bed. They were not breathing," Pirtle says.

The nature of the fire is not clear yet, but it is clear that nature had a hand in how this fire behaved.  It looks like it started in the kitchen or utility area in the back part of the house. The winds were blowing away from the home. The flames were licking the neighbors house and his truck, but the winds gave firefighters crucial moments. 

It would have been impossible to get them out had winds been calm. Instead the firefighters stayed calm, made the rescue, but don't want to be called heroes.

Pirtle: "They said they'd rather not do an on-scene interview, they just want to go about their buisiness.  It was very brave of them to enter that house. And I'm sure a lot of things were going through their minds as they were in that house, burning like it was."

The home is obviously a total loss, and the man who rents this property told the fire chief that there were smoke detectors inside, but the investigation is continuing. It is clear three people are still alive because of the heroic actions of a rookie and a volunteer."

Reported by Morgan Palmer 

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