DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The Dallas apartment fire had been burning for more than an hour. The search for trapped victims had been completed. It was time to clear the place, fight the blaze from the outside rather than the inside, and turn on the ladder pipes – huge, crane-like hoses capable of spewing tons of water onto the top of the building.
“The roof was already collapsing on the north end. The decision was made to go to an exterior attack,” said a Dallas firefighter who was there that morning, on May 20.
Veteran Dallas fireman Stanley Wilson died that day, trapped by a collapse of the building, after he and four other firefighters went back in to search for victims.
The CBS 11’s I-Team has for several months been investigating the events that led to the death of Wilson, including why the firefighters re-entered the building after it had already been searched.
Dallas firefighters, firefighting experts and even a member of Wilson’s family have told the I-Team they also want to know why the dangerous search was done after the building had been burning for so long.
Sources, including a Dallas fireman who also fought the fire, told the I-Team there may have been several ladder pipes – each producing powerful “master streams” – that continued to pound the building when Wilson and the others went in.
“The master pipes and the water streams can put so much water on the building, and can push heat and smoke and fire down, that it’s not safe for people to be in there,” said the fireman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“It can continue to collapse the building …,” he added.
The fireman described the emotions of another fireman, a rookie, who had gone in with Wilson.
“He stated that there was so much water coming down on him, he was afraid he was going to drown before he was rescued, or before he could get out,” the fireman told the I-Team.
Joel Lavender, a spokesman for the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
To maintain the integrity of the ongoing Stanley Wilson line-of duty death (LODD) investigative report, the Dallas Fire Rescue Department (DFR) and its members will refrain from making any public comment. The final LODD report will be based on factual information related to this specific incident. The final Stanley Wilson LODD report will stand as the DFR’s official response to this incident.
Meanwhile, Wilson’s fellow firefighters and friends continue to wait for the completion of investigations being conducted by the city of Dallas, the state and the federal government.
“The city of Dallas owes everything to the Wilson family, because the city of Dallas is responsible for this,” said Jim Crump, a recently retired Dallas fireman and lifelong friend of Stan Wilson’s. “This was too preventable,” Crump said. “No way should this have happened.”
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