LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Two Lubbock firefighters, Jose Solis and Dillon Shaw, were honored with Medals of Valor Wednesday for their work in responding to an explosion at Tech Terrace last year.
Shaw says firefighters relied on their training as they struggled to put out the fire caused by the explosion of cylinders filled with compressed gas.
“It’s more of a fire explosion - smoke, citizens coming out who were right next to it... They got glass from the windows right into their face and eyes,” Joe Solis from Engine 9 recalled.
Both firefighters were given Medals of Valor along with certificates from Fire Chief Shaun Fogerson at a special ceremony.
“It’s just finishing the fight is how I see it,” Solis said.
The explosion that rocked the neighborhood took the lives of 45-year-old Rodica Gelca and 72-year-old John Flemming, leaving Solis and Rowin stuck in an 8-foot hole. That night was a little over a year ago, but it’s still stuck in their memories. Shaw pulled Solis out of the hole and pulled out Rowin with the help of another firefighter. They say Rowin was half-awake after passing out.
“When I got around to the front of that pickup, I got around the corner and there was nobody there… and I notice an open hole and that’s where I found Jose and Josh,” Shaw said.
“And when we came around and even with all of the light from the fire… what made it hard was the smoke and everything else… there was a pit in front that truck that was illegally dug out. We both went into it and he fell all of the way down and knocked himself out. I got twisted around and caught all of the weight I had with my shoulders - chicken-winged out - and when I landed, it busted them both out. Dillon’s quick reactions and quick thinking is what got me out and then Josh out,” Solis said.
Shaw credits his training for the successes of that night.
“I think that was a big, big deal for any department or any firefighter.”