Two Bryan firefighters killed when roof collapses

| staff and the Associated Press

Posted on February 16, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 17 at 9:22 AM

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BRYAN, Texas — A second firefighter died Saturday from the injuries he sustained while fighting a fire late Friday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bryan, Texas.

Lt. Gregory Pickard, 54, was being treated at the burn unit at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He was sent there early Saturday morning along with fellow firefighters Ricky Mantey Jr., 30, and 21-year-old Mitchel Moran.

A doctor at the burn unit said Saturday afternoon that the surviving firefighters may be hospitalized for more than a month due to their injuries.

Pickard has been with BFD for 32 years, according to the city of Bryan.

Lt. Eric Wallace, 36, died while fighting the fire which began at about 11:20 p.m. at the building located in the 1500 block of Groesbeck Street.

Firefighters from Bryan and nearby College Station were called to the scene to battle the blaze.

City spokeswoman Mary Stratta said Wallace’s team went into the structure, but was ordered to evacuate.

Wallace didn’t come out and called for help, saying he was low on air. She said rapid response units found Wallace, a 13-year veteran of the department, inside.

An early report indicated Wallace became trapped when a portion of the roof collapsed.

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating. The hall was vacant at the time of the fire.

According to KBTX-TV, Wallace, 36, was married with five children. He was a nearly 13-year veteran of the department. In June 2012, a fundraiser was held to help the Wallace family after the couple’s newest child was born prematurely.

In 2010, Wallace was honored by the 100 Club for bravery in a 2009 fire. He was off-duty, driving home from a shift, when he saw a house on fire. When he found out the homeowner was still inside, he ran into the burning building.

The homeowner was too weak to get out on his own, but Wallace pulled him to safety.

The Diocese of Austin, which includes the Bryan/College Station area, issued a statement Saturday afternoon offering their condolences to the families of the firefighters:

“We offer prayers for Lt. Eric Wallace and his family and for the firefighters who were injured. We offer our most sincere condolences to Lt. Wallace’s widow and his five children. We also seek the intercession of St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, for the recovery of the injured firefighters.”

Mantey has served BFD for five years, and Moran for 10 months.

KBTX-TV also reported that a relief account has been set up at Wells Fargo for the fallen and injured firefighters’ families. Donations can be made to the Benefit Donation account for the Bryan Fire Department:

Wells Fargo Bank, Main Branch
3000 Briarcrest
Bryan, TX 77802
Attn: Bryan Firefighter Fund

Bryan is located about 85 miles northwest of Houston.