Three East Texas firefighters were sent to the hospital for injuries after their water truck turned over.
It happened Wednesday night on FM 850 near Highway 259 when the New London Fire Department was bringing in a tanker full of water to a grass fire.
We spoke to the New London Fire Chief to find out what happened.
Curtis Riley has been on the New London Volunteer Fire Department for about 30 years, and has been chief since 2010, so he knows his way around a fire truck. He says the water tanker wheels went onto the shoulder of the road.
“The dirt on the side of the road being muddy and everything didn’t really support the weight of the truck, and wouldn’t allow it to come back up on the road,” Riley said.
And the truck was about 2,500 gallons of water heavier.
“And with that weight pulling you towards the ditch, it just wasn’t able to be pulled back up on the road,” Riley stated.
The tanker went on its side and three firefighters were trapped in the cab.
Chief Riley said, “The three guys were extricated from the vehicle.”
They were removed by rescuers cutting the top off the cab.
They were then “Taken to Good Shepherd Hospital in Longview,” Riley clarified.
Two of the firefighters were treated and released, but the third spent the night and in the morning was:
“Moved from the emergency room into ICU where they could keep a close watch on him,” the chief said.
He was in the passenger seat, which is the side of the truck that went into the dirt.
“He has been stabilized and they’re just keeping a close eye on him,” Riley revealed.
But the chief didn’t go to the wreck right away. He was fighting a working fire.
“With the help of Crim’s Chapel Fire Department, [we] extinguished the fire,” the chief explained.
Then they went to the scene of the wreck, and on to the hospital. As for what caused the fire?
“At this time, there really hasn’t been a big investigation on the grass fire because we’ve kind of been concentrating our efforts on those three guys,” The chief added.
They’ve cleared the equipment out of the damaged truck, but it may be awhile until a tanker sits in the fire department bay.
At last report, the injured firefighter was in good spirits, talking with family and friends. He has been a volunteer with the department for about 40 years.
The chief says if a water truck is needed, nearby departments will volunteer theirs for service. No word yet on if the truck can be repaired or will have to be replaced.