Colleagues, friends share grief over firefighter's death

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on August 16, 2011 at 1:54 AM

It took only a split second for veteran Dallas firefighter Lt. Todd Krodle to fall through the roof of a burning Dallas apartment complex to his death Sunday.

The grief extends far beyond the wife and small children he left behind. Communities miles apart are mourning his loss.

Fire Station No. 26, where Krodle worked, has now lost two members within the past ten years, and the most recent death is being felt from here to his home in rural East Texas.

Throughout the day, folks showed up at Rowdy Payne's grocery store in Caddo Mills looking to help. Payne, like many in the town, have known the Krodle family for years.

"Everybody's just in shock still," Payne said. "It's just sad to see two young children to lose their dad."

Lt. Krodle was born in Hunt County, and he raised his family in the small town of Caddo Mills.

He died 40 miles away when he fell through a roof while fighting an apartment fire in Southwest Dallas.

"Yeah, it runs deep with Todd and I," said firefighting colleague David Diggs, who grew up with Krodle in East Texas.

The two men joined the Dallas fire department together nearly 20 years ago. They've been best friends since pre-school.

"Todd was a man that lived by faith," Diggs said. "It's hard; it's tough on us that are still here. Many now are grieving."

Krodle, 41, loved coaching his two young children and was a fixture at his Baptist church.

"He's a devoted Christian family man," Payne said. "He was just so good to his kids, his family...  he was just a wonderful kind of guy."

Krodle is the first Dallas firefighter killed in a fire in nearly a decade. The heavy loss is being shared by his family at home and his family at work.

"We lost a good one here, in my opinion, the best," Diggs said. "It makes it tough. It's a big hole to fill in the fire department."

investigators said an electrical short started Sunday's fire. The City of Dallas said it has looked into that apartment complex before for code violations, including problems related to its roof. 

Police say the owners have been cooperative about fixing problems, and it was unclear whether those shotrcomings played any role in Lt. Krodle's death.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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