On Friday two Lubbock firefighters will be honored as Red Cross Heroes for helping to save one of their fellow firefighters from a burning house.
On February 18th firefighters Zach Dicken, Jon Tunnell and their crew headed out to a large house fire in the 1900 block of 15th Street.
"On the way there the smoke was all the way down the street. It was kind of an odd situation. It was real hot and intense in the house," said Zach.
Zach, Jon and their Lieutenant Justin Koontz entered the house for a search. The smoke was overwhelming, so the three left the house and used a fan to try and clear the smoke. A little while later the three headed back in for a second time.
"It was getting way too hot for us to be in there, and that's when Koontz told us to back out," said Jon. "When we started to back out that's when we got separated."
Jon and Zach made it out of the house, while their Lieutenant was somewhere inside. "You can't see your hand in front of your face. As we were leaving the structure I tripped and fell and went off the hose line, and kind of got disoriented in one of the front rooms there," said Koontz. "At that time the hallway started to flash over just when all the smoke and super heated gasses spontaneously combust, and it was probably about five feet from me."
The lieutenant issued a mayday as he tried to find his way out of the house, but before the crew was alerted, the two young firefighters were already headed back into the burning house to find him.
"There wasn't any question in my mind whether we should go back in, he wasn't with us so it's what we had to do," said Jon.
"You just do what you're trained to do, go in there and especially when a friend is involved you really want to do your best and try to get out of there as quick as you can," added Zach.
With their leader, the three got out of house just in time. "The whole house exploded probably 45 seconds after that so yeah it worked out good, it could've been a lot worse," said Koontz.
Although the two firefighters are heroes on a daily basis as they risk their lives to protect the community, they say they were just doing their jobs. "It's an honor to be recognized, I don't really feel like we did anything to deserve this award but I'm happy to accept it," said Zach.
Zach and Jon will be honored on Friday during the Red Cross Champion's Breakfast. The program starts at 8 a.m. at Aerocare.
"I'm proud of those guys, and it's good to have a team like that, that you trust with your life," said Koontz.
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