Austin, Texas firefighter William Cook broke his silence about a near-miss that nearly claimed his life in 2015 following Thursday’s tragic line-of-duty death in nearby San Antonio.
Cook, a 16-year veteran at the time, responded to a three-alarm condominium fire in October 2015. Cook was outside while two other firefighters were making an interior attack.
Cook told KXAN, that conditions inside rapidly changed and he saw a wall was about to collapse. Then he entered the building to rescue the other firefighters.
“I ran as fast as I could and shoved him and pushed him out of the way as much as I could,” Cook told KXAN. “I yelled at him and asked if he was okay. I felt the wall fall on top of me. I felt a bunch of bricks hit me. I felt a bunch of weight. Then, the next thing I remember I felt the floor bounce. The floor bounced and then I saw the floor open up in a big hole underneath me.”
Cook said he was trapped and burning and could hear the two others calling out for help.
Before his instinct to survive kicked in, Cook said he made peace with never seeing his children again.
“I said the hell with this, I’m not going to sit here. I’m not going out like this,” said Cook. “That’s when I saw my daughter’s face and with everything I could I pushed the second floor up.”
Cook and the two other firefighters survived, but he knows it could have been a much different outcome.