Man claims volunteer fire department didn't do its job

UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - By Taylor Hemness - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An Upshur County man says a local volunteer fire department did not do its job when responding to a fire that almost destroyed his home.

It happened Friday afternoon at the corner of Turkey and Michel Streets in southern Upshur County, near the Gregg County line.

Bob Miller was headed to the store Friday afternoon, and just happened to look back at his home as he left.

"I just looked over to the right as I left, and when I did, on the corner of this deck out back, a big puff of black smoke was boiling," said Miller.

Miller says that in the time it took him to run back to his home, the fire got even stronger.

"It just instantaneously shot across the deck and up the house," he said.

Miller says he and friends were throwing water at the fire, until Longview firefighters arrived. He says it was not long until the fire looked to be under control.

"They told me that when you see it just puffy white, they basically have the fire under control and out," he said.

Gladewater Volunteer Fire Department had also responded, helping to basically get the fire out. At that point, Miller says the East Mountain Volunteer Fire Department had taken control of the fire. He says that is also about the time the fire re-started. Miller says the East Mountain chief gave an order that shocked him.

"Denny Medlin gave the order, 'There's nothing in there worth a dollar. Just let it burn,'" said Miller.

One of Miller's friends who was there remembers how he felt when he heard the order.

"We were trying to get what stuff we could get out of the building, and was told to leave it alone and let it burn," said Leon Fatherree. "My heart really grieves for what took place out here. You just would have had to be here to see it."

Miller says it would have been impossible to watch his things burn when they did not have to. That is why he went back in even after the chief's order. He says it is why the order should not have been given in the first place.

"If you're gonna play golf, and tell people you can, play good," he said. "If you're going to be a fireman, and tell people you are one, know what you're doing."

We contacted East Mountain Fire Chief Denny Medlin for a comment, but he declined.

The Gilmer Volunteer Fire Department, who also responded to the fire, also declined comment.

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