DALLAS — A firefighter died late Sunday afternoon after falling through the roof of a burning apartment building in southwest Dallas.
Dallas Fire-Rescue Acting Chief Louis Bright identified the victim as Lt. Todd Krodle, 41. The 17-year veteran of the department was married and had two children.
Allen Gardner said he saw the flames begin shooting through the roof of a building at the Ridge Crest Apartments, 5606 Plum Grove Lane, after the first alarm was sounded at 4:12 p.m.
"They started trying to figure out where the flame was coming from and started running through the attic," said Gardner, describing the work of firefighters. "As they ran through the attic, a guy fell through the roof at the top right there. He fell straight in."
"He was an example of courage, bravery, heroism that our men and women exhibit each day," Chief Bright said. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to his family."
Fire department spokesman Jason Evans said Lt. Krodle had been working to ventilate the roof of the 42-year-old building by cutting a hole in it with a chainsaw — a procedure that reduces the possibility of a dangerous backdraft, but a procedure that itself is not without danger.
"Fires are unpredictable, as are the structures that they affect, and sometimes accidents happen," Evans said.
Paramedics brought the injured man down from the second floor and rushed him to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"On behalf of the Dallas City Council and the entire City of Dallas workforce, we express our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and fellow firefighters of this courageous and dedicated firefighter," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in a written statement issued Sunday night. "We must never lose sight that fire service is an extremely dangerous business and this brave man died doing the dangerous job he loved; protecting our citizens and our properties and making our neighborhoods safer for all of us."
Allen Gardner, who lives in the neighborhood, put it this way: "The emotional strain you could see in their faces," he said. "It's not a big scale fire, but still, anything that they go to they take it as seriously as possible."
Fire, smoke and water damage was limited to one of the two-story buildings at the Ridge Crest complex. No tenants were injured.
Evans said the origin of the fire appears to have been a first floor apartment where there was an electrical appliance malfunction. The fire then got into the wall space and moved quickly to the attic.
"God bless the fire department and the family," Gardner said.
Lt. Krodle's colleagues at Fire Station No. 26 were immediately taken off the line. They lost more than a co-worker on Sunday; they lost a brother.
"[We're] making sure that all of our first-responding companies receive the counseling that they need," Evans said.
Firefighters from other stations were working Station No. 26 shifts on Sunday night.
A Dallas firefighter died earlier this year of a heart attack at his fire station, and a recruit died in training.
But the last time Dallas lost a firefighter during a fire was in 2002. Capt. Michael DePauw collapsed after a heart attack while battling a house fire in December of that year.
And in February 2002, Vince Davis was trapped when a wall collapsed.