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20 YEARS AGO TODAY HOUSTON LOST TWO FIREFIGHTERS IN A MCDONALDS FIRE

Two Houston firefighters lost their lives in a McDonald’s restaurant arson fire at 12602 Bissonnet. The fire was reported at 4:30 a.m. Engine 76 was the first fire fighting unit on the scene 8 minutes later and reported 6-foot flames visible from the roof. The flames appeared as if they might be venting from an exhaust fan, possibly indicating a grease fire.

The captain ordered his firefighters to advance an attack line into the interior of the structure for fire control. No fire was visible in the interior of the restaurant. The firefighters from Engine 76 were joined by other firefighters who also advanced attack lines to the interior. At 4:52 a.m., the incident commander ordered all firefighters out of the building in order to transition to a defensive attack mode. The flames visible from the roof had grown to 30 feet in height, and the fire had become visible in the kitchen area of the restaurant.

Moments later, the captain from Engine 76 concluded that his firefighters were missing and notified the incident commander. A second alarm was requested at 5:02 a.m. and rescue attempts were begun. A number of rescue attempts were made. At 5:27 a.m., the incident commander struck a third alarm.

Shortly thereafter, a ladder company opened the rear door of the restaurant and made access to the back of the kitchen area. A PASS device had been heard alarming in the kitchen area, and a firefighter was able to see a downed firefighter as he looked into the back door. A firefighter was discovered with his facepiece in-place, his regulator not connected to the facepiece, and with his SCBA partially removed and entangled in wires. He was removed, treated at the scene, in the ambulance, and at the hospital. Despite these efforts, he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Given the amount of time that had passed and the likelihood that a second firefighter was buried in debris, the search effort transitioned into a recovery mode. The missing firefighter was found at approximately 7:13 a.m. within 6 feet of the rear door of the restaurant. She was entangled in wires and a pair of wire cutters were found near her body. She was wearing an SCBA but the status of her facepiece and regulator could not be determined.

Both firefighters died of asphyxia due to smoke inhalation. The fire was intentionally set by a group of juveniles attempting to conceal a burglary attempt. Four individuals were convicted of crimes with sentences ranging from 2 to 35 years.”

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