A Cactus Firefighter who suffered 3rd degree burns a week ago last Saturday at a 35,000 acre grassfire has died in the Line of Duty. Firefighter Elias Jaquez suffered burns to 60% of his body in that fire. He was taken to University Medical Center in Lubbock on April 9 and died from his injuries Wednesday. Firefighter Jaquez, 49, a husband and father of four daughters, has been a Volunteer Firefighter at the fire department for slightly less than two years.
Firefighter Jaquez, and 3 other Firefighters were injured after a Dumas and Cactus fire apparatus became stuck in the rough terrain. The Cactus crew was going on to de-flank the fire, the Dumas truck got stuck in the sand and the Cactus fire crew came up beside them grab the other firefighters, and then they got stuck. The heroic attempts took Firefighter Jaquez’s life.
Josephine Jacquez is a Cactus Volunteer Firefighter just like her husband Elias – she remembers listening to the scanners as the fires burned through Moore County.
"I started hearing that firefighters had smoke inhalation and there was one missing in action," Josephine said.
Jacquez ran about a half mile from his truck before he was overtaken by the flames.
"It left them no other option but to get out and run," Josephine explained that she didn’t know who was injured but she headed to the hospital to be there no matter who it was.
"Ambulance after ambulance kept coming and arriving, when the last one arrived it was my husband," Josephine cried.
It was a moment she says she’ll never forget, as their fellow firefighters stood next to her.
"All the firefighters got on their knees right there in front of the hospital and started praying it was so heart touching," Josephine continued.
All three men suffered smoke inhalation, although the other two did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Jacquez worked at the JBS Swift & Co. meat packing plant in Cactus. A fund has been set up for the Jacquez family at Happy State Bank.
The cause of the fire was two electrical lines arching in the high winds.
These West Texas fires in no way have the same characteristics as the grass fires here in Montgomery County. Be safe out there.