JASPER COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A Tuesday night fire destroyed a Jasper County home, while a firefighter became ill while helping to put out the flames.
James Gunter, Beech Grove Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief said they were called around 10:37 p.m. Tuesday to Private Road 5056, near County Road 323, to a large structure fire. That’s about 10 miles southwest of Jasper.
Multiple fire agencies including the Tri-Community and Jasper Volunteer Fire Departments assisted. They were able to get the fire under control about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.
Gunter said 30 firefighters and approximately 40,000 gallons of water were utilized to control the fire.
No one was home at the time of the fire. Gunter says the fire was discovered by the owner when returning home from Jasper. Gunter said the owner stated he saw heavy fire involvement in the kitchen/utility room areas of the house.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. Gunter says it is not suspicious. But he says one firefighter was taken to a hospital.
“We had a couple of guys actually with heat exhaustion,” Gunter said. “It was warm. It was humid last night. They got a little too hot. That was easy to deal with, but we had one guy that just didn’t feel good.”
Gunter says that firefighter, whose name has not been released, decided he needed to go home.
“We’re all volunteers,” Gunter said. We have to trust they understand their bodies, and that was fine. Well, when he got home, he had went from feeling bad to feeling worse, and within a very brief period of time, the pain was unbearable in his stomach area.”
Gunter says the firefighter was taken to a Jasper hospital.
“They diagnosed him there with a type of hernia; a pretty serious type of hernia,” Gunter said. “That was beyond their ability to treat at [CHRISTUS Southeast Texas - Jasper Memorial Hospital], which they transferred him to CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth in Beaumont. It was going to require surgery, which is why they transferred him to see specialists there.”
Gunter says that surgery happened this morning.
“He’s doing fine and should be released to come home [Wednesday] afternoon,” Gunter said.
He says he’s happy the firefighter is okay and hopes he makes a full recovery.
“The worst fear of any fire chief is getting somebody hurt,” Gunter said. “Being a firefighter is like being an athlete. It’s a tough job. There’s a lot of exertion and a lot of endurance. None of us are getting any younger.”