Two Houston firefighters killed battling house fire

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by By MICHELE PONTO / KHOU-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:02 AM

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HOUSTON - Two firefighters died early Easter morning while battling a house fire in southeast Houston, Houston Fire District Chief Tommy Dowdy said.

Captain James Harlow and Probationary Firefighter Damien Hobbs of Station 26 were the two firefighters who succumbed to the fire.

Captain James Harlow, 50, was hired by the HFD in August 1979 and has been a Captain at Fire Station 26 since 2004.Probationary Firefighter Damien Hobbs, 29, graduated from the HFD Val Jahnke Training Facility on March 3, 2009, with Class 2008C, and began his first assignment at Fire Station 26 on March 7.

Crews were dispatched to a house fire on Oak Vista near Reveille in southeast Houston just after midnight.

When the fire trucks arrived, heavy smoke and flames were already coming out of the one-story home.

In order to attack the blaze, they decided to go on the defensive and use the ladder truck. Firefighters cut a hole in the roof, but the high wind fueled the fire and it quickly spread through the attic.

Neighbors said firefighters were inside the home once the blaze appeared to be dying down. But flames suddenly shot through the roof and erupted sideways through the house.

Firefighters were then called outside the home, but two failed to answer roll call. Their bodies were found in the house between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Rescue workers attempted CPR but the men were pronounced dead at the scene, witnesses said.

"It was sad night and it's a sad day for the Houston Fire Department," said one of the firefighters at the scene. "The lives of both the family in the home and firefighters have been touched, and the lives of the citizens of Houston as well."

The people living in the home made it out safely.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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